Alison Chapman-Andrews

DRY SEASON

ALISON CHAPMAN-ANDREWS, VISUAL ARTIST

DUST, HEAT and smells drift into every corner of the living room. Too many animals cross the yard: monkeys, cats, chickens. Today we watered with a sprinkler, but it just keeps down the dust; no sweet clean smells of early rain on fresh grass of a few weeks ago.

It’s a real dry season in my work, too. OK, I’m vaguely aware that there were lows before but never like one idea, having within it the seeds of the next. Today I unpacked work unsold from the galleries (why keep on trying?) and one small picture of overlapping coconut leaves became the pattern of a bathing suit picture.  Seventeen followed. But there is no evidence that such a long dry season has happened before. Even now, although I am painting, it’s just finishing what was started before, and self-portrait drawings scatter the bedroom floor. I moved the mirror, found drawing paper, drawing boards, tape, and begged soft paper to make rubbings of lace, but it now lies abandoned after working on it for only one day.

I long for an answer that shows the way forward. Making art is the only thing I know how to do, and so I will continue, but without purpose and joy. It seems frustrating. I am jealous. Jealous especially of young confident artists, with the use of performance, installations, digital images, and film. So I see with their eyes: DOES PAINTING MATTER? Making me feel more anachronistic than ever. I am also jealous of older artists secure in their work and able to accept the young. A few years ago, when a newspaper called me “veteran,” I was quite annoyed.

                                                     

What makes now different, too, is my age. Maybe at 72 I have just painted myself out and that was all there was. Maybe I’m in a new place entirely, and there is no old age of full production to come.   

In 2000 I produced a mono-print coincidentally called Dry Season. A nude old lady sits against a garden with drooping cactus. The body depicted is how I’ve become and my outlook—bleak. But, I am pleased to say, I’m not bald.

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Alison Chapman-Andrews attended the painting school at The Royal College of Art in London from 1963 to 1966.  She came to Barbados in 1969.  And stayed: “I found a visual home in Barbados, its flora, palm trees, gullies and vistas.”

She taught high-school art at The St Michael School for twelve years, wrote a Sunday column in the Nation newspaper, and was vice-president of the Art Collection Foundation. She has represented Barbados in group shows in London, Paris, Montreal, Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana, and Curacao, and in biennials in Santo Domingo and Ecuador. Her last solo exhibition in Barbados was Landscape Revisited at Punch Creative Arena, Barbados Community College, in 2013.

Alison's work is included in ArtsEtc's art collection.