Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2014 Contents B3
"The creative process has a life of its own," says Elspeth Dun-
can. And through being open to that process in her new initiative
Firehorse Fridays, she hopes to inspire others and make interesting
art.Firehorse Fridays is a series of interactive creative sessions meant
to culminate in a multimedia exhibition called Firehorse. There
have been two so far, with two more planned, on January 24 and
31.She says, "Firehorse Fridays invites people/anyone to come and
be a part of and contribute to whatever creative activity I have
devised for that particular Friday."
Duncan is no stranger to creativity. At forty-something years
old she is an accomplished author, filmmaker, restaurateur, yoga
instructor, musician, photographer and columnist (her new Tobago
Peeps appears in the T&T Guardian every Monday). A playwright,
her piece The Perfect Place was staged twice last year by the
Trinidad Theatre Workshop.
Through all her expressions, she is known for offering fresh
angles that make her audiences think about the world in new
Firehouse Fridays is no exception. The project invites the public
to work with her as she creates a series of works, mainly paintings,
which will eventually be part of the exhibition.
"I like to provide opportunities for the public/random people
to interact with me and be involved in some way in my creative
process," she says.
The collaborative creative process is focused on letting the works
evolve and become what they will, without imposing direction
The project is based at Healing With Horses Love and Magic
Centre, on the grounds of Shore Things Café in Lambeau, Tobago.
Duncan is a member of Healing with Horses (healing-with-
horses.com), which provides therapeutic riding lessons for children
with special needs, including disabilities or psychological diffi-
Firehorse Fridays "gives me something extra to do while I am
on shift there," says Duncan. "And I thought it would also draw
more people to the centre."
This is her first foray into painting. It all started when she
attended a workshop with visiting artist Omesh Cain, who in
September last year introduced her to the layering and scraping
technique she is using for the project.
And as with much of her work, there s a spiritual aspect to the
"I am a Firehorse, born in that year according to Chinese
astrology. Last year, I did a painting that involved the technique
of applying layers of paint and textures, then scraping away to
reveal images. What emerged to me was a horse-like, fire-breathing
creature. I realised it was a Firehorse and that I had painted myself.
It is somewhat of a self-portrait.
"The next few paintings I did using that technique also revealed
horses. I was not planning on painting horses; they were just there
waiting to be revealed."
She has completed seven paintings so far. The works are on
wood, ranging in size from about one foot square to four by three
Duncan describes what took place at the first session, on January
10: "I started (one painting) in black and white layers and textures.
Those who came each added random paint marks, swirls---whatever
they felt moved to apply to the wooden canvas."
She said each person "approached differently: some softly, some
boldly, some dropping swirls of paint, some making straight lines,
some using leaves, some laughing, some serious, some pensive."
Afterwards, she took home the "communal canvas" and began
to work on it.
"I found myself adding blue, then greens and other colours. It
is totally different now, but the offerings of others are still there
because it created textures that I still see and feel under what I
She stresses that for participants, "No experience in creativity
is needed. Everyone is creative in their own way and every con-
tribution gives something to the painting."
She says the collaborative aspect "gives me more random textures
and shapes to work with and increases the element of surrender
to what is, rather than what I may want something to become.
"Every Friday, I use a different medium," she says. "The first
one involved paint. The second one will involve audio or voice.
And so on."
The schedule for showing the works is changeable, too. "My
initial plan was to have the exhibition in late March or early April,
but I am open to the possibility of it being later, if that is what
appears to be best," she says. "It may be a tiered experience,
possibly even happening in different times/places.
"It really is a gradually unfolding exhibition, so there is a lot
that is yet to be evealed to me---including venue of exhibit, exact
format, etc. I guess it is just like the painting process itself: scraping
at layers to reveal, rather than deciding what will be."
So, although she definitely plans to show the work, she says,
"It feels more like the exhibition has a plan for me!"
• More info: email@example.com
The communal canvas at the first Firehorse session.
Firehorse, by Elspeth Duncan.
festival ---Page B4 A familiar story
made fresh ---Page B21
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