Saturday, 15 October 2011

Island Identity... Does the term Caribbean or Island Aesthetic mean anything to you?

I'm starting a mini series asking questions about 'Caribbean or Island Aesthetic.'
So between colour palettes, design work and beautiful pictures, expect to get some discussion about this from some of the designers, writers, artists, creative directors, directors and other friends of mine.

Some of these interview answers will be presented in written post and later a few will be video recorded. I hope you find the answers to these as interesting as I do and you share your views!

Island Identity 1.

Richard Mark Rawlins is a Graphic Designer/Photographer/Artist/Creative Director, working in advertising in Trinidad for the last twenty years. Rawlins is the publisher of the online magazine Draconian Switch ( . Draconian Switch is currently in the GLOBAL AFRICA PROJECT at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Richard Mark Rawlins
photo by Rodell Warner
Does the term Caribbean or Island Aesthetic mean anything to you and if so what?

I think it's a matter of perception, exposure and age.

Island Aesthetic


At 44 I am a post independence child. That means that I was part of a new movement heading towards a nationhood building.
The smallness and expectation of "ISLAND" culture never entered into my psyche at all. Black power was another nation shaping thing in a sense that set to put the "islandness" of things in another place once and for all.
I had aunts and uncles in UWI involved in the movement, that was about 'black pride'. That shaped me.
Pride in self and seeing yourself as beautiful was foremost.


A decade of living in a north america opened my mind to a bigger world of possibilities, but not a wanting for replacement of what I had. If anything it left me with an even bigger sense of pride and place and appreciation for what I had an where I came from.

All my national pride moments came from a place of "countryman " pride vs island pride.
While I understand the clich├ęd...a small island nation that went before a Ms. Universe, or a Miss Worldor a Hasely Crawford or an Ato Boldon or Dwight Yorke or Brian Lara, the bigger understanding was always nationhood and people power.


I don't work in an environment or rather I am not around many "foriegners" or expats. 
My country is seen through my eyes as just that "my country". I really don't ascribe an aesthethic to it other than a love of "BREEZE" blocks. In recent times I've heard the "island" culture discussion coming from my own people, and I guess I would have to link it to their relationships to the large amount of Europeans that are now working  alongside them.

I think the fraternization has created a psuedo-aesthetic actually. One in which the local re-inteprates their landscape through foriegn eyes. So much so that they themselves see their country as an island and adopt terms like the 'locals' , when they themselves are the locals.

Final analysis:

The discussion should really be around Banana Republicanism and the Carnivalesque adsurdity of our Political systems rather than about our Caribbean or Island Aesthetic.

Draconian Switch is an Art and Design e-magazine published in Trinidad and Tobago by Richard Rawlins with the collaboration of a group of artists, designers, and writers. The Magazine’s primary goal is to feature the work of CONTEMPORARY artist currently working in Trinidad and Tobago or with GLOBAL Caribbean connections.

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