R&C Publishers Launches ‘In A World of Their Own’

On Tuesday 24th April, Trinidad & Tobago illustrated book press, Robert & Christopher Publishers and photographer Maria Nunes, will launch their new book, In a World of Their Own: Carnival Dreamers & Makers, Photographs by Maria Nunes. The launch event, which is part of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, will take place at Big Black Box, 33 Murray Street, Woodbrook, from 7.00pm.

Over the past decade, photographer Maria Nunes has been documenting the people who fight to uphold an ethos of Carnival in which creating and performing while paying homage to tradition is central. In a World of Their Own features 300 of Nunes’ stunning and sensitively made colour and black and white photographs of these dreamers and makers, from her unique perspective inside Trinidad Carnival. Through her lens, we travel through time and space in Carnival, from the preparation beforehand, to the last rays of light at dusk on Carnival Tuesday. We enter yards and living rooms as traditions are passed on and skills are honed, we see ideas develop and costumes come to life. We visit Belmont, the Savannah, East Port of Spain and South Quay; Paramin, Perseverance Village, Arima, Moruga, Mayaro, Debe and San Fernando. We take to stages, gayelles and streets, through the unfolding days of Carnival, revelling in all of the beauty, darkness, light, and colour of transcendental performances.

Edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown, In a World of Their Own is 216 pages andfeatures a lyrical essay by Shivanee Ramlochan, who contributes ideas of document, archive and memory. In a World of Their Own also features excerpts of interviews conducted with makers pictured in the book, who give further, invaluable insight: Adrian Young, Alan Vaughan, Anderson Patrick, Darlington ‘Boysie’ Henry, Desmond Noel, Etienne Charles, Kemoi Harper, Lionel Jagessar Senior, Narcenio ‘Señor’ Gomez, Narrie Approo, Ronald Alfred, Shynel Brizan, Steffano Marcano, Stephanie Kanhai, Tekel ‘Salti’ Sylvan, Tracey Sankar-Charleau, and Wendell Manwarren.

Nunes states, “With this book, I hope to offer an alternative perspective to the repeated – and often unfounded – narrative that Carnival traditions are dying and are mainly the concern of an older generation. To be sure, there is an ongoing struggle to keep some traditions going, but to mindlessly cut and paste that clichéd mantra is to miss the reality that so many Carnival artists today are a younger generation bringing new energy to the Carnival space and actively taking the mantle of responsibility for cultural vibrancy from their elders. Their work is the marriage of new ideas and tradition and their creativity is a real-time response within Carnival as a whole. They need our active support and encouragement.”

In a World of Their Own: Carnival Dreamers & Makers, Photographs by Maria Nunes, was made possible through the generosity of Republic Bank Limited, as part of its Power to Make a Difference programme. Considerable support was also given by The Massy Foundation; the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts; Bermudez Group; and Monlo Music Ltd.
The launch is free and open to the public, and Nunes will be present to sign copies of the book, which will be on sale for TT$300. Cash, cheque, and credit card will be accepted. The books will also be sold at the Robert & Christopher table at the NALIS, Port of Spain, during the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Bocas (April 27th, 28th, and 29th).

Guadeloupe supports publishing of A to Z

Trinidad and Tobago illustrated art book imprint, Robert & Christopher Publishers (R&C) is delighted to announce a publishing partnership with Guadeloupe arts organisation, KAERA, towards the publishing and distribution of the forthcoming book, A to Z of Caribbean Art.

With over 40 Trinidad and Tobago visual artists represented, A to Z of Caribbean Art – a comprehensive, visual overview of Caribbean art, from the beginning of the 20th century to now – will be Robert & Christopher Publishers’ sixth title. R&C is currently working towards a Trinidad launch of A to Z at Bocas Lit Fest in late April 2018.

Shell Trinidad and Tobago Limited has made a financial contribution that has been applied to the research and writing phases of the book. R&C has also raised funds through a crowdfunding campaign. While KAERA’s contribution will cover part of the cost of printing the book, R&C is still actively fundraising to cover the balance of costs needed to produce a book of this calibre.

Robert & Christopher Publishers is telling a Caribbean story through the A to Z of Caribbean Art – one of a shared past, connected cultural identities and unfolding selfhood. The strength of this publication comes from the links they are forming by collaborating with writers, editors, curators, artists and institutions here at home and throughout the region.

“We are particularly grateful for KAERA’s support because R&C has been trying, without success, to gain the support of our own local government,” explain Robert & Christopher co-editors, Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown. “We have completed a number of applications for funding; none of these has been successful to this point, but we currently have an application in with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. We’re hoping that, like the French government, our own government is able to see the importance of contributing to this seminal project and helping to ensure increased visibility – both within the Caribbean and internationally – and posterity for Trinidad and Tobago artists.”

KAERA is a Guadeloupe-based organisation that promotes artistic achievement in digital or traditional form. KAERA works collaboratively to create and curate art-centred events that will bring greater recognition of Guadeloupean artists.

“We believe that collaboration between the Caribbean islands can only strengthen and enhance our international profile, as well as enrich the practice of participating artists. This spirit of collaboration makes us happy to participate in publishing A to Z of Caribbean Art,” says KAERA director Hélène Dabriou.

Robert & Christopher Publishers (R&C) is a small and ambitious illustrated art book imprint based in Trinidad and Tobago. Its primary concern is to produce high-quality books that document and elucidate our Caribbean story, as seen through the eyes of Caribbean artists.  R&C’s dedicated team aims to produce the highest quality of relevant books that will be accessible to a wide reading and creative audience, in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and internationally. R&C is the first Caribbean imprint to have a book distributed by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP), the most prestigious distributor of illustrated art books, with clients that include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Guggenheim and many more. As a result, R&C’s books can be found in the libraries of MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbia University, New York University, The University of Virginia, The University of California. Our titles can also be found in local and regional institutions including The University of the West Indies, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Gallery of Jamaica and many more.

In addition to its most recent title, See Me Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean, Robert & Christopher has also published: Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography, Che Lovelace: Paintings 2004 – 2008, Meiling: Fashion Designer and Barbara Jardine: Goldsmith. In 2014, R&C was invited to co-curate an exhibition, “Pictures from Paradise,” with Wedge Curatorial Projects in Toronto, Canada, as part of the annual CONTACT Photography Festival – the largest public photography festival in the world.

Meet our Jamaica writers

Work continues apace on the A to Z, and we’re happy to introduce our two writers from Jamaica: Monique Barnett-Davidson and Nicole Smythe-Johnson. Barnett-Davidson has worked in various aspects of the visual arts in Jamaica including art education, exhibition programming and development, as well as art museum education and research. She is currently the Assistant Curator in Education at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator based in Kingston. She has written for several local and international publications. Most recently, she was Assistant Curator on Neither Day Nor Night (2017) an exhibition of the work of John Dunkley at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. She is currently Editor of Caribbean Quarterly, the University of the West Indies’ flagship journal.

Meet our Trinidadian writers

Our publishing target for A to Z of Caribbean Art is April 2018, and we’re marching steadily on towards that goal. We’re finalising content and speaking with advisors throughout the Caribbean. Research is in full swing, and we’ve started to formally engage a number of writers. We’re still confirming A to Z writers across the Caribbean, but we’re happy to be able announce our team from Trinidad and Tobago: Pat Ganase, Geoffrey MacLean, Marsha Pearce, and Judy Raymond. All have had illustrious careers in the arts and a couple are R&C alums, having written for Meiling: Fashion Designer and Barbara Jardine: Goldsmith (Raymond), as well as See Me Here (Pearce). We’re thrilled to have them on board for our latest, and to welcome two new people to our extended R&C family!

We’ll introduce new writers soon, and we’ll keep sending updates as things develop. Watch this space, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more.

Perks en route!

The team at R&C has been busy over the past couple weeks getting your A to Z perks ready. We’ve just had an epic perk packing session, and we’re now sending out a second round of thank you cards, as well as postcard packs, copies of Pictures from Paradise and See Me Here, buttons, tote bags and sketchbooks.

A very special thank you to Alex Kelly for generously donating time and talent towards screen printing the branded A to Z totes and sketchbooks. They’re gorgeous! For those backers who ordered any of the perks mentioned here, keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks.

A to Z success with Indiegogo!

Our recently concluded crowdfunding campaign for A to Z of Caribbean Art has been a great success and brought us a tremendous boost as we move forward with work on the book.

Thank you so much to everyone who backed our campaign or shared our links or encouraged others to support. We really couldn’t have done it without you!

We’re crowdfunding our next book!

The A to Z of Caribbean Art is a 300+ page art book that will offer a visual overview of Caribbean art, from the beginning of the 20th century to now. Featuring more than 200 artists, this richly illustrated book will be a key resource of information on the greatest artists of the region. We’re passionate about this project and its potential reach and longevity, and we’re looking forward to your support in helping us to bring it to life!

Please take a minute to look at our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and make a contribution if you can.  Thanks!

See Me Here reviewed in The CRB

See Me Here is reviewed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson in the September 2016 issue of The Caribbean Review of Books.

“I recommend regarding the volumes in this series as exhibitions, rather than as books. Yes, they function as books: they are portable documents of artwork of a certain type, from a certain region, in a certain time. However, they also make deliberate use of the logic of the art exhibition — the establishment of visual relationships, a focus on placement and space, etc. The series makes an argument — not as a literary text does, but as a visual one does. In this way, they are truly successful art-books, fusing the two media in the best possible way. To own a copy, then, is to have a portable exhibition, open for viewing the moment you part the pages.”   Read the full review here…

Bim launch of See Me Here

On Thursday 26 June we launched our latest publication, See Me Here: A Survey of Contemporary Self-Portraits from the Caribbean, in Barbados as part of Fresh Milk XVI.

This event featured a small exhibition of the work of the four Bajan artists in the book – Ewan Atkinson, Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner and Sheena Rose – all of whom were present for a spirited panel discussion on their work and the definition of self within a Caribbean context. R&C’s co-editor, Melanie Archer, also sat in on the panel, which was moderated by Barbadian artist, Russell Watson.

After the discussion, Fresh Milk’s Katherine Kennedy wrote an insightful review of the book that can be found here.

See me here
Joscelyn Gardner listens to Annalee Davis
Artist Joscelyn Gardner discusses her practice.
See Me Here cover artist, Sheena Rose, discusses her work
The panel, from left: Joscelyn Gardner, Russell Watson, Sheena Rose, Ewan Atkinson, Melanie Archer (R&C) and Annalee Davis (Fresh Milk)
The audience.
Moderator Russell Watson (left) and artist Ewan Atkinson

Pictures from Paradise Exhibition in Toronto!

View of the shipping containers at The Power Plant. © Toni Hafkenscheid
View of the shipping containers at The Power Plant. © Toni Hafkenscheid

Pictures from Paradise opens at the 2014 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival with an exuberant launch and a well-attended artists’ talk at the Gladstone Hotel.

Pictures from Paradise artists, with the Robert & Christopher team, Kenneth Montague and Maria Kanellopoulos from Wedge, and Bonnie Rubenstein of CONTACT.
Pictures from Paradise artists, with the Robert & Christopher team, Kenneth Montague and Maria Kanellopoulos from Wedge, and Bonnie Rubenstein of CONTACT

Pictures from Paradise features the work of 18 artists from seven Caribbean countries who vary in the ways in which they frame, stage, manipulate, use, and reuse images. Based on the 2012 book of the same name by Robert & Christopher Publishers, the exhibition is structured by four photographic genres: “The Documentary Image” celebrates the interrogative attitude of photographs; “Portraiture” challenges our understanding of the emotive subject; “Transformed Media” hails digital processes; and “Tableau Vivant” depicts constructed scenarios.
The works were presented within four adjoining shipping containers alongside Lake Ontario, inviting contemplation about issues of consumerism, globalization, tourism, migration, and the ever-present legacy of slavery in Caribbean history. Placing the works outside of the typical exhibition space of a gallery also signals a different type of storytelling, one that responds to, and moves beyond the limited narratives around a Caribbean “paradise.” It explores Caribbean identity in a way that addresses the important question posed by Stuart Hall, the celebrated Jamaican/British cultural theorist: “If you are not that, who are you?”

One view of the Pictures from Paradise installation.
One view of the Pictures from Paradise installation.

Organized with Wedge Curatorial Projects
Presented in partnership with Robert & Christopher Publishers and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.
Supported by Canada Council of the Arts, the Ministry of Tourism, Trinidad & Tobago and Giant Container Services.
Curated by Melanie Archer, Mariel Brown and Kenneth Montague
Designed by Richard Mark Rawlins