As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

The Wrong Part of Town in Antigua and Barbuda

Sign Above Shop

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Everyplace is safe in Antigua during the day. But this sign seems to indicate that some areas in town might be a little more problematic at night.

Recalling My Interview with Antiguan Artist Mark Brown

Painting by Mark Brown

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Painting by Mark Brown

During the course of writing my upcoming book “Amongst Artists in Antigua” I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Mark Brown and other local Antiguan painters, writers, sculptors, and other artists. These interviews were essential in order to tell each artist’s story and in order to tell the story of art in Antigua. I was prepared to find the interviews interesting as I’ve always had a fascination with people who “follow their own star” in pursuit of their passions. But I wasn’t prepared for the interviews to be so deeply moving for both myself and for artists I interviewed.

It was during my interview with Mark Brown that I first recognized the source of this emotion. This book’s hugely ambitious undertaking … attempting to capture the artistic statement made by each artist over their entire life up to that point … was also incredibly personal for the artist. The interviews in a sense consisted of them taking stock of their whole lives as artists and reflecting on what had been particularly moving and meaningful. The questions I asked them were often met with searing honesty that helped me discover insight in the common threads between their stories.

All of the interviews for this reason were moving, but my interview with Mark Brown stands out in my mind because of the particular insight I gained during it. The stakes for me in writing the book were high. I aimed to communicate a deeply true perspective of Antiguan art and artists. As with any other artist creating an artistic work, the only crime that I as a writer could commit in my book was in perjuring the truth. I knew the penalty for committing crime would be a book that simply wouldn’t connect with the reader and that would be a financial disaster.

But for the artists I interviewed the stakes were even higher. This book is not an artistic work that they are creating … it is the meat and gristle of their entire lives. In my interview with Mark Brown he was disarmingly candid in sharing his struggles with his faith and in sharing his struggles to free his creativity from the constraints that conservative Antiguan society had placed in his mind. I understood and saw firsthand how speaking the truth might leave each artist feeling exposed and vulnerable to public opinion. But reflecting on how important it is for an artist to share through their work the personal truths that have been revealed to them I also came to recognize how important  it is to leave that truth behind as one’s own personal legacy. Because if you don’t leave behind the truth … you don’t leave any trace you were ever here.

Snorkeling and Grilled Lobster Shore Lunch with Creole Cruises

Snorkeling off Great Bird Island.

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Being used to chlorinated fresh water swimming pools I'm always amazed at how you float like a cork in natural salt water. You don't need to know how to swim to snorkel. You just have to know how to relax and lie there in the warm tropical water and watch the fishes below like you are watching TV. I found I was quite a natural at it. I'm glad I was able to finally get some use out of my doctorate degree with distinguished honors in the field of "relaxing and watching TV".

A snorkeling excursion to Great Bird Island off the coast of Antigua where guests enjoyed a great lunch of fresh grilled Caribbean lobsters.

Sister Sledge takes the Food and Drink Industry Party Over the Top

The Sugar Ridge Hotel

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The newly completed Sugar Ridge Hotel made a glamorous venue for the event.

Antigua has some interesting culinary choices and last night at the Food & Drink Industry party held at the Sugar Ridge hotel some of the best of those dishes were brought forth by the chefs on hand. And what goes well with food and drink? Well music of course! Disco diva’s Sister Sledge added even more glamor to the event when they showed up to perform “We are family”. The party was in full swing by that time but their appearance took the fete way over the top. The only downside to the event was that it ended a little early after everyone ate off all the gourmet food and drank off all the fine liquors slightly ahead of schedule. But all in all it was a well put together event.

Yoga in Antigua

Antigua’s warm climate and picturesque views are perfect for yoga outdoors. Today instead of my usual solo exercise on the beach I did a class with local yoga instructor Leilani Griffing of Chakra Bodyworks in Antigua. Leilani came to Antigua from Hawaii and has been in Antigua now for over a decade.

Why yoga you ask? A number of years ago a sports medicine specialist told me that I could likely get rid of knee and back pain I had at the time if I did certain strength and flexibility exercises. In the long term the improved body alignment that comes with yoga is far better for various aches and pains than any medicine. In addition it’s great daily practice for maintaining focus and not getting distracted by the “noise” of everyday life.

If you’re in Antigua and looking to do yoga Leilani’s website is below:

http://www.chakrabodyworks.com

Come to Russell’s Bar & Seafood at Fort James in Antigua for the Sunset

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Russell’s is a bar & seafood restaurant at Fort James, in Antigua. Of the restaurant which is run by Russell himself, one prominent local had the following to say “the service is always great. The beer is always ice cold, the food is filling and delicious. The music, art, and general historical deal make for a unique experience. But really what I come for is the unique view best experienced at Sunset”.

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