Akley Olton

Caribbean people have found themselves in a new wave of anti-colonial struggles, where politically engaged artists occupy a more complex and also unstable terrain.

Our region projects a bohemian fantasy image, hiding the plantations of the new age under the paradise of today. We must find a way to confront this legacy and create a more authentic image of ourselves in the Caribbean. Most times the emphasis is not placed on developing the creative industry in the region because some leaders don’t see the high economic returns.

Creatives on the islands, don’t usually get the support that is required for their development. In my case, it’s been a combination of luck and persistence, because in St. Vincent and the Grenadines it is so challenging to be a professional artist.

My work explores possibilities, as well as challenges. It makes new demands on art to serve as a form of protest. A continuation of the journey to further resist colonialism. The paintbrush and the camera have become the weapons of our day. Armed with the words and memories of our forefathers, I continue their resistance struggle, by sharing their stories. The culture of the indigenous peoples and their way of life must be in our present and in the future.

We need more platforms like the Caribbean Linked to help develop creative ideas in the region. I appreciate spaces where artists are the focus. Usually, I see this kind of artist development programme happening in the Northern hemisphere. The residency was exhilarating and am still charged up by our vibrant interactions in the virtual space, so I look forward to meeting and collaborating in person in 2022.