Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 20th 2015 Contents | PRACTICAL INSPIRATION |
By Roslyn Carrington
SO THERE I WAS, at the Gulf View Community Centre last Friday night with
my kids, with a handful of paintbrushes, a palette of acrylic paints, staring down
a blank canvas, thinking, "But...but...I can't paint...!"
I suppose that's what many people think when they first arrive at one of
Sharon Burford's Arty Parties, which she hosts on Fridays and Saturdays. Held
in art schools, community centres and private homes all over Europe and the
USA, "Wine and Art" parties are small gatherings of strangers (who don't stay
strangers for long) who get together to paint, guided by art teachers, chat and
have a snack. Evenings are usually themed, and participants often copy the
work or style of a famous artist. Sharon's Arty Party is one of the first of its
kind in Trinidad, and people can't get enough.
Our theme for the evening is Fabulous Felines, and we're treated to a 10-minute
introduction to the gorgeously imaginative cat paintings of the late Laurel
Burch (you can see them at laurelburch.com). And then we are invited to step
into --- no, plunge into --- art.
"People come in with stress, depression, and anxiety disorders, and leave de-
stressed. You forget about making time for you. You don't realise how sick you
make yourself by not doing things to honour your spirit. I'm also glad I can ac-
commodate differently abled people at my parties." Having been exposed to
various workshops on art therapy, she can spot where individuals are struggling
ether emotionally, or physically in the case of motor skills, and refer them for
professional help and intervention, if necessary.
She pooh-poohs the idea that people can't paint, insisting that we are all natu-
rally creative, it's that we're just too busy or too unsure of ourselves to attempt
it. "You forget the joy of it, because we're so busy keeping up with the bills." She
points out that after her parties, people go home with renewed self-confidence.
An artist all her life, she is proficient in many disciplines. One of her sculptures,
called Madonna and Child, was one of 20 out of over 100 member submissions
by the women members of the Art Society of T&T, to be exhibited at the
Women in Art exhibition celebrating 100 years of International Women's Day at
the national museum. It now belongs to a private collector.
She does fine art, design, even cartoons, on commission, and collaborates on de-
signs for Chaguanas Jouvert band, Junabo, which has won several times in Ch-
aguanas. Her artwork has been featured on the stage of pop singer, Rick
Springfield, of all people!
For seven years, Sharon taught art at Cedar Grove Private School, and wishes
the art component of SEA (VAPA) was less performance-oriented, and more
designed to stimulate relaxation and creativity. "Children are being made to
draw the same thing over and over. It kills creativity. You can't do art just to get
20 out of 20." To fuel children's need for self-expression and individualism, she
offers art camps, but will not do classes specific to SEA.
She hopes one day to have an art studio. "I jumped into this with zero money. It
was a huge risk. I left my job, which I enjoyed, deciding I had to do this NOW.
People were, like, oh my God, what are you doing? Are you mad? But I decided
it was do or die."
A South girl born and bred, she thinks it is high time the Art Society establishes
a southern branch, as artists who want to display their work have to trek north
to be seen. Last year she collaborated with the owner of Nichossa, Lesley Ann
Dopson, to install an artists' wall, which is a permanent fixture and is ongoing. "I
am constantly seeking south artists to feature on the walls, so if anyone has
work they can contact me. South gets left out," she says. She is also an admin
on the Facebook page, Things to Do in South Trinidad, which has 19,000 follow-
Sharon's Arty Parties are a great family-friendly outing, and is even a lovely way
for single women to get out and interact. "It's not necessarily about finding a
partner, but you can relax in friendly environment and have a good time." As for
dating couples, it's a great way to bond, and such a far cry from the yawnfully
pedestrian dinner-and-a-movie scenario. She also takes bookings for clubs, pri-
vate events, corporate team-building events and the like. "It's a great way to see
your so-workers in a different light and bond." And at the end of it all, you get to
take your painting home!
For commissions, or to book your spot in the next
Arty Party, go to Arty Party TT on Facebook,
email email@example.com or call 717-1791.
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