Sunday, July 31, 2005
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Home Sweet Home
Friday, July 29, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
Browse at your leisure ...
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
Positive vibes for Pippa
Thursday, July 21, 2005
We're almost there
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Three angels on Elspeth Road
In the heading I meant to say 'Three ANGLES of Elspeth Road' ... but decided to leave the typo. Who knows ... maybe there are invisible angels standing near to the signs. Took these when I was in England in 2003 and found them yesterday when I was looking through the photos I took that year. Three different signs on Elspeth Road in London. I wonder who that Elspeth was and why they named the road after her.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Two thoughts for Tuesday
Monday, July 18, 2005
To those who read this
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005
(At least) 100 Good Things
1. When I woke up this morning I felt peaceful as though something had washed over me
Put as little or as many as you want (personal or generic).
Number them, following on from where the last person left off (e.g. after my #10, the next "good thing" will be #11 and so on) ... until we have at least 100
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Not the full thing
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
One thing at a time
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
What it looks like
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Music for the Movie of your Mind
Friday, July 08, 2005
Nuff said, nuff done
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Being a Trini (?)
My 6 year old nephew's silhouette in this scene from the Street Life video
I understand where Nuff is coming from ... and, as such, I am inspired to express the following thoughts. The premise used is one that I have encountered often over the years. Personally, in terms of my own art and music, I have received comments like: "Your music is too foreign" ... or "Your art is not local" ... or "Your work is too different. People won't understand it."
I 'accept' those comments because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I ignore those comments because I am putting out creative work in response to inspiration from a place that has nothing to do with my geography ... and has no basis in efforts to please anyone. There are those who like it, those who don't like it, those who are confused by it, those who walk away from it, those who thank me for it, those who are inspired by it.
The other day in a TV interview, one of the women interviewing me said (in reponse to my talking about my work): "Your art is too sophisticated. I'm getting the feeling that it makes people think." Hmmmm ... Another misconception ... Trinis don't and can't think! Or feel,
And what is this word "too"? What does it really mean? Too different ... Too sophisticated ... Too foreign ... Too me?
Why underestimate the abilities of someone from Trinidad or Tobago to understand, appreciate or feel anything that is "different"? I have a saying I came up with a few years ago in response to that very premise. I used it in a post a few months ago: Everything was a strange combination before we got used to it. Once upon a time Trinis did not know about doubles or roti (of Indian origin). Now it is one of the national staples.
In the past two years when I've been to England for two of my films, I've seen the difference in the way that people take in the work and show their appreciation for it. They take it for what it is - not for where it's from (even though they will naturally acknowledge the artist's country of origin). When All of Emily showed in Manchester, a pin could have dropped throughout - and I would have heard it. The silence of attention and appreciation, undistracted by trivialities. And back home: silence yes ... or the odd "Oh my God!" ... or the man who got up and walked out with the loud comment of "What de hell is dis?!" when a particular scene disturbed him.
And on a personal level I also felt the difference when abroad - appreciation of me as a creative person, of the work created, a willingness to discuss and ask questions ... rather than making flippant comments that have nothing to do with anything ... such as "Dat's not a Trini film" (or rather, flim) or "Why yuh didn't put a pan in yuh video?" or "How come yuh eh use calypso?" or ... bla bla bla, etc etc etc. I'm not saying all TT's think like that ... and neither am I putting down those who do.
Perhaps someone reading this may say: "She divorcin' sheself from she culture, boy!" Is that possible? (And by 'culture' I don't mean pan, calypso and Carnival). Someone asked me recently in an interview if, as an artist, I was frustrated and stifled by Trini society. My answer was no. I recognize the limitations that exist and I believe that who I am now as an artist has, to an extent, been shaped by those limitations. One can either give into the "lack" of something, sit back and be frustrated, waiting for others to offer you opportunities ... or override the lack of interest in and support for creative ventures and create your own opportunities.
Question: What is 'culture', then ... if it's not pan, calypso and Carnival? To me it is the spirit of a place. Does spirit have boundaries? Does spirit express itself through one medium? In one 'language'?
Criticism. What is it? Where is the consctructive criticism within our society? The criticism that enables people to grow and stretch beyond themselves by seeing where they can improve. I've seen creative peers crippled by newspaper critics who seem to sadistically enjoy ripping their work to shreds. None of it sounds consctructive to me.
In closing, I'll dedicate a line from Malik's song to the Trinbagonians who are too interested in haggling over whether something is "local enough" or not to see the work for what it is: OPEN YUH EYES, I KNOW YOU AIN'T BLIND.
This is Elspeth Duncan from Trinidad & Tobago and this is her work. Fullstop.
And ditto for the countless others who produce (and will continue to produce) work that is inspired by something other than the cliche of 'nationality'.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Street Life will continue
This image is not from the Street Life video, but it's from the street (under the bridge by the Port-of-Spain market). Work on the video will continue ... but will take a brief backseat as I finish up some other work I have to do for a deadline. Hopefully will be able to get the extra shots done this weekend.
- Elspeth -
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Street Life: Interview Malik
Elspeth: Tell me when this all started for you ... your writing.
Malik: My writing started when I was about twelve, thirteen years. I started writing poetry as a form of therapy ... to express myself.
E: What inspired you at that age? What things did you write about, mainly?
M: A lot of stuff I wrote about was how I felt as a person. You know ... because of the secondary school I went to as well. I went Morvant Laventille and there was a lot of negativity around there. So I used to use the poetry as a way to express myself.
E: Commenting on the negativity or looking for solutions?
M: Actually, a little bit of both. Commenting and talking about the solution itself. Like talking about love and talking about depression.
E: How did you move from "paper" to "people"? How did your poetry move from being a private thing to being a public thing?
M: Well actually I think it was when I was about fifteen. I listened to a lot of reggae music, a lot of conscious music ... like Sizzla and Capleton. More or less I used to chant and thing when I was in school. I used to be doing that and singing for my friends and stuff. Just for fun and just for games ... you know, just do it just to get a laugh ... and the girls ... the music is all in that.
E: And then you got involved with the Circle of Poets?
M: Circle of Poets came long after. Circle of Poets came roughly about 2000, but I got into hip hop. The reason why ... I started doing rap ... because somewhere around '98/'99 the dancehall music or the reggae music to me wasn't appealing as such. I find the lyrical content - to me - it had just dropped, so I wanted something more attached to me to actually say exactly what yuh mean ... so that's how I got into hip hop, to actually express and say this is what's going on, so-so-so is the case and this is why I'm doing what I'm doing now.
E: But what is it about Hip Hop in particular that draws you to that particular form of expression? Hip Hop as opposed to, let's say, rock music.
M: Well ... to tell you the truth, I'm not really a rock fan. (Laughing) But hip hop is just the beats ... sometimes they catch you with the beats ... and rap itself is rhythm like American poetry ... that's exactly what rap is. Hip hop is the style, rap is what you do. You know rapping is a way ... just expressing you. You know every rapper has a different accent, every rapper have a different way he phrases words - that talks about who you are ... if you're real, if you're fake or if you're just trying to be everyone else.
E: Okay. Tell me about Street Life.
M: Well Street Life - this is basically one of the songs that has a lot of meaning to me. It touches on a lot of stuff on domestic violence, abuse - well, child abuse - it touches on suicide, gang-related violence. You know, just a way for me to put it across and express it through a poetry style. That's basically what Street Life is ... talking about what goes on in the streets. But you know when people hear about "street life" they think about bang bang, shoot-up, gangster type ... but it isn't about that. It's about what goes on in the street, but not really focusing on the negativity, but actually giving you solutions.
E: What do you hope to achieve from having done the video?
M: Well, hoping to achieve a lot more exposure through this. My album is supposed to be coming out soon, so that song would be on the album. A lot of recognition to my producer, Navid Lancaster ... and to the editor and director, Elspeth Duncan ... you know? (chuckling) She's very deep in her thoughts. Probably just really being bold and being cocky and being full of myself. Probably leaving the country and doing a couple of shows in England and all about (more chuckling) ... and making a lot of money.
E: Why not? Let's hope we all do!
M: Yeah ... you have to speak it into being, more or less.
E: Okay, great. Any message to anyone who may be tuning in? Any message you would like to project as Malik?
M: Malik is ... always original, writing from the heart. Do what you do ... no-one could do you ... just do you to the best and always keep God first.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Street Life: Lyrics
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Street Life: a video in progress
This is a still from the video Street Life which I am currently working on for hip hop artiste, Malik. I would say the video is 95% finished. There are just one or two scenes which I will tweak for more meaning.
(Just a little aside before ths post continues: forgot to mention - for those in Trinidad - I will be performing this afternoon from 5:30 p.m. at the Circle of Poets monthly show in the AV room of the National Museum. They have invited me to be their feature guest for today. I'll be crooning some of my tunes, showing two recent short video works, talking about the inspiration behind it all ... and of course there will be interactive experiences).
We did the bulk of the shooting last weekend on a backstreet we found downtown ... St. Paul Street (if I remember the name correctly). Quite fortuitiously, I went driving there one afternoon when we were looking for a "streetish" location. It looked perfect - narrow street lined with old houses and quaint buildings, very artistic and colourful graffiti (neatly and purposefully done, yet with a rough feel), no cars passing up and down, quaint bar at corner filled with old men, etc. But what drew me most was the quaint little wooden shop - very hippy - with a rainbow emblazoned across its entire front wall (in rasta colours) and the rest of the walls covered in bright painted flowers, birds, butterflies, etc. and positive words like PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, PROGRESS, HOPE, BLESS, etc. I tried shooting one or two scenes around there, but the afternoon was murky, the CD player wasn't working (to play the song so Malik could synch his lips to it) and it just didn't make sense to continue.
Went back the next weekend (me and Malik) and everything rolled smoothly. The bulk of the video takes place on that street (even though you don't really see the street in its entirety, because a lot of the shots are close ups). It's the kind of place that would have most people saying: "That's a rough area! I'm not going there!" But ... ironically ... it was like stepping back in time to a place that could have many people saying: "Oh, we wish Trinidad was like this again!" ... In other words, the words painted on the wooden rainbow shop reflect the feeling of that little backstreet ...
SOME OF THE MAIN THINGS THAT STRUCK US ABOUT THAT STREET
1. Old houses - charming, old, quaint, untouched by modernity. Yet ironically Riverside Plaza looms in the background with its glass body.
2. Community spirit - e.g. the charming old man, Carl, who runs a community school and teaches people in the neighbourhood (children and adults) reading and maths. He seems to be like the father of the "hood", chastizing even the roughest looking characters for walking in front of the camera. He got us electricity from a neighbouring house so we could run the extension for the CD player. He got us neighbourhood youths to help out with little things that we couldn't do whilst Malik was singing and I was filming.
3. Very friendly and curious people who got excited when they saw the camera, realised we were shooting a video and gathered around to watch and help in some way. This included Terry, an affable neighbourhood fixture, who was reeking of rum and made himself my assistant director (calling out directions to Malik along with me). And he was pretty good at it too, with an artful eye for framing shots.
4. The street dogs! These cute pothounds (started with one and grew to a small pack) who were not camera shy and managed to make themselves a part of the footage.
There was a lot more to that street ... something heartwarming and welcoming. We felt embraced by strangers. Had plans to go back and shoot more footage there, but may not be necessary.
- Elspeth -
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Friday, July 01, 2005
But ... the shift to Elspeth perhaps means a new phase in development. I know for me it feels different to sign as Elspeth. And maybe for you it feels different to "see" Elspeth.
When I make comments they will probably still say "Happy Hippy" , but I'll try and tweak that later today when I have time.