Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2014 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 22, 2014
fruit symbolises death and decay.
In both works, decay gives birth
to new life, whether artistically
"Fire destroys some aspects of
the limes," Braithwaite says, "but
renders them more durable."
Charred fruit won t rot like fresh
He cooks the limes in the oven
in his Cascade home. Later he
tells me it was dangerous work,
as the limes would explode in his
face. He took to wearing goggles.
His wife, Tassanee, said they
made repeat trips to the organic
fruit and veg market where he
would ask stallholders if they had
limes of a certain shape and size.
The stallholder would pick out
fruit of the right dimensions and
Braithwaite would then ask:
"Great, can I get 300 of these?"
So, in the darkness of the sub-
ject matter there is humour and
Braithwaite sees the humour here
in his current home, a place he
says fascinates him.
Chicken s feet in supermarkets,
hypersexualised adverts for Hard
Wine, lists of rules in public
places (the strict adherence to
regulations in a seemingly ultra-
permissive society), a dead caiman
by the side of the Beetham High-
way (he wanted to capture this
for his Roadkill book, but never
got to see it himself, just tales
When asked about the most
horrific roadkill he s ever seen,
"It s often the little ones that
shock you most," he says.
"The baby agouti and the birds
which are meant to be up in the
Repetition, chaos and order
Another trademark of the installation
is Braithwaite s use of repetition.
In 2010 he created an untitled work
consisting of a mahogany cabinet in
which hundreds of rolled pages from
Edward Said s book Orientalism were
tucked into spaces behind the glass.
In 2011 s World Trade Cabinet, he
rolled dozens of pages of Tolstoy s War
and Peace and placed them, evenly
spaced, inside the piece.
He repeated the trick to dazzling
effect with 600 quail s eggs, painstak-
ingly placed in a cabinet, cushioned
with cotton wool.
And, in a piece from a series called
Hearts and Minds in 2012, nine hand
grenades in the shape and blood-red
colour of anatomical human hearts are
displayed in a white box.
The T&T Guardian suggested to
Braithwaite perhaps this painstaking
attention to the detail of his work might
be a rebuttal of the notion that an
artist s working life is all spontaneous
and idle creation.
For him, an artistic idea might arise
through spontaneity, but its execution
is repeated work in the same way some-
body at a factory or at their desk in an
office from 9 am--5 pm carries out the
same task over and over again.
Also at the talk, Nicholas Laughlin,
one of Alice Yard s directors, wondered
if Braithwaite had a neat and tidy desk.
Braithwaite suggested that the
"kitschy obsession with cleanliness and
order" (I would add, regularity) in his
work might be an antidote to his con-
stantly nomadic life---he had worked
in 40 different countries before his 30th
birthday---in which he never really knew
from one year to the next where life
might take him.
He recognises in his work the jux-
taposition of order and chaos. Describ-
ing his life as "ephemeral" and iden-
tifying a perhaps subconscious need to
"put things in boxes."
Intimately acquainted with the Mid-
dle East, Braithwaite set off for Iraq
during the insurgency that followed the
US-led invasion in 2003.
He has visited Iran, Syria, Yemen,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
Much of his work and reputation have
been fostered in the region and exhibited
in places like Kuwait and Dubai.
He admits to a fear that he might
run out of ideas if he stops moving and
stops "foraging," as he puts it.
Nature, Hirst and death
In exhibiting natural organisms in
preserved states and in the humour
inherent in that imagery (limes, quail s
eggs and a book called Roadkill which
he is still collating, capturing images
of roadkill from around the world
including here in T&T) the T&T
Guardian suggested to the artist that
there is an element of homage to the
young British artists of the early
1990s---Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas,
Tracey Emin et al.
Being away from England during that
period, however (Braithwaite grew up
on RAF bases overseas), he says he had
a resistance to the movement, partic-
ularly Lucas s art, which was often seen
as vapid and nothing more than visual
jokes in art circles, but that in hindsight
he accepted Hirst s early work may have
been an influence.
Both artists deal with the subject
matter of cycles of life and death and
their infinite interconnectivity. In
Hirst s A Thousand Years, a rotting
cow s head feeds flies which are born
from maggots and then die when they
fly into a zapper.
In The Limes Installation, the burnt
ORDER OF THE LIMES from Page B1
Using the trick of repetition
A close-up of the charred, blackened limes that are the basis of Al Braithwaite's
installation at Alice Yard, Woodbrook. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
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