FOLKLORE REBIRTH: Re-imagining Bajan folk characters
A virtual art gallery of original artwork by artists and designers and their interpretation of some of Barbados’ traditional folk characters reborn in a modern setting. In collaboration with Artists Alliance and Oneka Small.
As you scroll past the beautiful submissions be sure to check out the creative descriptions of how each character was interpreted from the artists themselves!
Battling Steel Donkeys – Matthew Clarke
Two steel donkeys are tamed by fire.
Visit the official page for Beyond Publishing here
Chok We – Ann Rudder
Ann Rudder designed nuff years ago for a cancelled Crop Over event. For use by a stiltwalkers group the elongated character figures offer a unique Visual Presentation. This includes the ‘brass belled’ antics of African Shamana “CHOCKWE”
Heart Man – R. Bruce P. Evelyn
In nature, bright colours serve to attract and to warn. Similarly in my image of the re-imagined Heart Man bright colours attract the viewer’s attention, but are also unsettling, hinting of the lurking character’s dangerous nature. The shadowed figure crouches amid vegetation, ready to strike at his next victim. Heart Man’s large grin belies his deadly intent. Evelyn creates his artwork by stacking digital photos over each other and blending the layers together in Adobe Photoshop. The image of Heart Man includes shapes and textures derived from photos of palm fronds, coralita flowers and sargassum seaweed.
Visit R. Bruce P. Evelyn online here
King Dyal – Ann Rudder
Ann Rudder designed nuff years ago for a cancelled Crop Over event. For use by a stiltwalkers group the elongated character figures offer a unique Visual Presentation. This was inspired by the cane waving motions of local favourite “KING DYAL”
Land Ship – Matthew Clarke
This Land Ship is from the graphic novel Matthew is working on called “Hardears”.
Visit the official page of Beyond Publishing here.
Go Down To Low Town – Rae Garnes
The piece is of the dancers doing their manoeuvre to the sounds of tuk.
The Strength Of A Woman – Charla Corbin
Nutseller for Charla represents a woman who has found her independence and strength through her work and her resilience through the years. Her hair as an Afro represents her confidence, her refusal to fall victim of status quo and her willingness to be uniquely her and free of dependence on others, but to provide for herself. The grey represents the wisdom she has attained through time. The red of her basket shows that she is still fiery and the lines of her face each a memory of story and a hardship she survived. And in spite of all her struggles the blue of her shirt shows she has found peace with life.
Old Doll – Ann Rudder
Ann Rudder designed nuff years ago for a cancelled Crop Over event. For use by a stiltwalkers group the elongated character figures offer a unique Visual Presentation. This entrance is “OLD DOLL” in her doubled hoop dress.
Pickney Moth (Nemesis of the Heartman) – Alanna Grant
The pickney moth is a heroine that is part human, part “frangipani” moth, called the “rasta” moth in some Caribbean islands. The colouring of her super suit are the very recognizable colours of the caterpillar stage of this creature. The costume optimizes her hybrid powers, with nob-like feelers on her tights and hair-like feelers on her shoes. They work in collaboration with the antennae on her head to sense children in need of her protection. Her large wings are a grey/brown colour that helps her to blend in with foliage and bark when tracking villains. This moth camo is also on her arms. She usually wears her natural hair in two buns to keep her hair out of the way in combat. Her weapons of choice are a “big rock” and a sugarcane cutlass (machete). below is a little back story.
Sandra Brathwaite was a nursery school teacher in Eden Lodge in the 1970s when one March, 2 of her students got kidnapped by the terrifying villain, The Heart Man. Overwhelmed with the news, Sandra went into the school garden to get some air. In the garden, Sandra saw the children’s’ favorite frangipani tree being overcome by a host of “Rasta Caterpillars” and tried to pluck them off. One caterpillar, upset about his meal being interrupted, gave her a mean bite. The next thing she knew, she was waking up the next day in a pupa. After a short struggle she was able to break free and discovered she had large powerful wings.
After talking to the local source of information, Pearlie-Grace, Sandra was able to track the heart man and save her students. Today she is known across the Caribbean as Pickney Moth-Protector of Children.
See more from Alanna here.
Shaggy Bear – Matthew Clarke
A Shaggy Bear re-imagined in a graphic novel Matthew is working on called “Hardears” the first issue was released in 2013.
Visit the official page for Beyond Publishing here.
Shag Me Bear – Ann Rudder
Ann Rudder designed nuff years ago for a cancelled Crop Over event. For use by a stiltwalkers group the elongated character figures offer a unique Visual Presentation. This ancestor is the ‘silver belled’ Barbadian “SHAG ME BEAR”
Something Sinister in Stinkeroo – Lenny Chandler
As belief in the folkloric characters of Barbados waned, the once greatly feared Steel Donkey was relegated to an existence of stalking the scrap yard of the Mangrove landfill. Towering stacks of shrapnel were now his temple, old cars and fridges around him like sacrificial altars of the old world. No longer appeased by trembling residents in villages and city districts, with precious trinkets, blood, or good rum, instead emerging as the long shadows of evening are cast, stalking monkeys and straying livestock, occasionally scaring the living daylights out of wandering security guards. It is said many disappearances of young children and the elderly with dementia or Alzheimer’s in the area is attributed to him.
Legend has it that around his neck, he wears a chain of mummified eyes, each one a prize from victims over the centuries. You see, for a human to dare to gaze upon the horror that was the Steel Donkey and live, he would take an eye as payment and also as a dreadful warning that should you cross his path again you’d either wind up blind or ‘spirited away’ as sacrifice.
See more from Lenny here.
Stick Licker Master – Matthew Clarke
A stick licking master.
Go here for the official page of Beyond Publishing.
Mauby Woman 2020+ – Evan McDonald
In a Post-Covid19 world, Barbadians are forced to pull from their natural and cultural resources to regain a sense of social and economic balance. Thus giving birth to the image of modern Mauby Women along the landscapes of the island’s villages and towns.
See more from Evan here.
Heart Man 21st – Evan McDonald
Apart of a centuries’ old community of men that rip the heart’s out of village residing women, this 21st century heartman, leans against his signature black hearse after performing his sworn in duty.
See more from Evan here.
Nut Seller 2020+ – Evan McDonald
In a future outside of Covid19, the Nut Seller once again becomes a regularly integrated part of the Barbadian landscape. Serving as a source of cultural recognition, economic stability and sweets.
See more from Evan here.
Ghoul Moore – Hebron Chism
The Bajan Steel Donkey has long been fodder for terrifying, mystifying tales…easy to blame for windows shattered by rock stones – with no witnesses! Part man, part donkey, his strength and curses are legend.
His chains harken back to broken slave chains – worn as spoils of his victory over shackles. The next time you pass through a track in an over grown pasture, looking like plain bush….listen for a clink and a clank…. in case you and he eyes mek four!
Find out more about Hebron’s work here.
Steel Donkey Raging Soul – Tracy DeOlivere Greenidge
Tracy’s concept of the Steel Donkey’s appearance though anthropomorphic in nature was to make him an even more tormented soul with not just with the usual fiery eyes and chains characteristics but also having part of his hybrid human/donkey skeletal structure consisting of steel partially growing out on the outside of his body coining the term “Steel Donkey”, a forever tormented soul used as a tool to curse others with harmful intent only in return be re-cursed and deformed over and over, his soul and appearance repeatedly tormented, replenishing his rage and anger in an endless time loop.
Tracy got the new idea of him wielding a medieval version of a slingshot or as we call it in here in Barbados a Guttaperk, armed with a molten hot boulder ready to be launched great distances utilizing his fire breathing characteristics also more so to debunk the idea of villagers hearing rocks being pummeled on their roof tops which no one could have explained in the rural country side area as it terrified them before
making an appearance in several areas of villages, even rooftops.
He digitally sculpted the Steel Donkey’s look using the 3D CGI creation software Pixologic Zbrush, to create his final look and posture then exported the model to render the overall color fur and chrome like exoskeleton structure in Keyshot 9, a 3D presentation software and furthering composting the final scene in Photoshop CS6.
See more from Tracy here.
Baccoo Man – Tracy DeOlivere Greendige
The Baccoo man also known in Caribbean/East Indian and Nigerian Yoruba culture was described as very short with large eyes with a tremendous appetite which would carry out the wishes of their master as long as it was fed on a diet of bananas and milk.
They were given tasks to torment other people their masters set upon them especially delinquent customers who shirked paying back their loans to shop owners, merchants etc that owned the creatures in secret or any other people that had wronged their masters in other ways.
However if this arrangement was broken the Baccoo would become very aggressive towards its owner, however some the stories differed throughout the regions but with some similarities mixed in.
Tracy’s concept of the Baccoo man was reconceptualizing him as a hybrid between a primate, a feline with gremlin like facial features, not of this earth but often venturing to earth throughout the centuries through reoccurring dimensional worm holes that somehow connected earth to their other worldly habitat.
They love earth food but have a special admiration for earth’s milk and banana’s which they often take back to their home world when not captured by humans to carry out their bidding.
Tracy digitally sculpted/designed the Baccoo in Pixologic Zbrush ,a 3d CGI software application where I fleshed out his look ,pun intended, also consisting of three layers of body fur and facial fur.
Afterwards I digitally sculpted the other visual elements and created the final pose and from there exporting it to 3D presentation software called Keyshot to render the final look and scene.
For more from Tracy go here.
Heart Man – Amanda Cummins & Risee Chadderton-Charles
Amanda imagined Heartman as a spectre who lost his own heart to the devil so he could gain immortality. That deal twisted him into a gross monstrosity that hunts children and lives on their hearts. He wears his three-piece suit and top hat to disguise his gruesome features, but when he finally gets a heart, he parks his hearse outside of a wooded area, disrobes, and chows down.
Model: Kiru Maynard
Makeup & Concept: Mandy Cummins
Photography & Edit: Risée Chaderton-Charles
VISUAL EXHIBIT JULY 27 – AUGUST 31
The artwork will be digitally mounted up on the site gineon.com/virtual-visuals and displayed in a visually appealing way. During this period the curators will also select pieces to be mounted in the physical gallery by Artist Alliance The Print 2020.
COSPLAY CHALLENGE AUGUST 13 – 31
Cosplayers locally and regionally will be challenged to create costumes inspired by the art work in the gallery. They will then be encouraged to post photos of their creations on their social media platforms. These post will be re-shared by Gine On?! on our social networks.
The online exhibition is open to locals as well as international contributors however only those residing in Barbados are eligible to win any of the prizes.
Artwork can be submitted as Drawings, Sculptures or Canvas art. This includes digital and traditional drawings. Sculptures can be from any material and we would be taking photos or videos of the sculptures from various angles.
The various Barbadian folk characters artists are encouraged to re-imagine and design are:
- Mudda Sally
- A masquerade entity in which a male portrayed a female was known as ‘Aunt/Mother Sally’. ‘Aunt Sally’ was the name of the 1936 entity as it performed at the May Day Bank Holiday celebrations. ‘Mother Sally’ was another name for the entity and the one that it was hailed by at independence. Again, the male performer used cloth and other materials to create an exaggerated bosom and backside. And the performer was masked.
- Shaggy Bear
- This masquerade entity was covered in strips of dried banana leaves and spun round and round, which caused the leaves to move. A well-known figure, one seventy-five year old respondent argued that the concept of ‘Shag’ evolved from the use of the banana shag as the material for the strips that adorned the Shaggy Bear. The dried banana leaves of Shaggy Bear were replaced by strips of cloth which eventually became the accepted performance material. Layers of colourful cloths created new dimensions of performance for the masquerade. Yet the loss of the leaves meant the loss of an intricate narrative that spoke to centuries of lived experience.
- The Landship call their dance steps naval manoeuvres in keeping with their shipping motif. The maypole dance is performed around a tall pole, which has ribbons attached. Both male and female Landship members dance the maypole. The dance movements and manoeuvres speak to the African-creole heritage, while the name recalls its English relation. Members mask themselves in the naval uniforms and performed its creolised dances in the streets. Adopting the imperial uniform allowed landships to practice their masquerade traditions and rituals in full view of the coloniser.
- Mr. Harding
- A masquerade entity that appeared once a year as part of plantation Crop Over was ‘Mr. Harding’. An effigy, believed to have represented a white planter or overseer who had been especially cruel to his enslaved and/or freed labourers, it could also represent the hard times that followed the end of the crop season as then the majority of labourers were unemployed. ‘Mr. Harding’ was burnt at the end of the celebrations, though it has been argued if the labourers on a particular plantation had cordial relations with their planter/overseer they were unlikely to burn the effigy.
- Heart Man
- Character who kills children and offers their hearts to the devil. This character was a man, dressed in all black who carves out the hearts of people, especially bad-behaved children and feeds them to the devil. He supposedly drove a black hearse and frequented the parishes to the north of the island. Young or old, the Heart Man was feared by all.
- Steel Donkey
- This ‘creature’ emerged sometime in the early 20th century, out of the superstition of ‘cursing’; that is, the belief that persons could put curses on others. In appearance, the steel donkey has features of an animal (more specifically, a donkey) with eyes like fire (and apparently he was fire breathing as well according to some reports) and a clanking chain. The donkey has been associated with stones landing on houses without anyone in sight seen to be throwing them. Others have associated the steel donkey with terrorizing some members of Barbados, particularly those from rural areas and their homes in the middle of the night.
- Stilt Man
- The Stiltman wore clothes, with layers of voluminous ruffled petticoats and drawers reaching just below the knees ending in a frill. Both men showed by their actions and gestures that they were aggressively masculine. Not only would Shaggy Bear be dressed in banana leaves, but so would the Stilt walker. Perched high in the air on wooden stilts these men would often perform daring tricks.
- Standing proud and tall, balancing a tray on her head filled with “comforts, toffees, packages ah nuts”, the traditional nutseller was a staple on the Barbadian landscape.
- Mauby Woman
- The Mauby woman or “Mawby” woman fills a glass from the canister on her head.
- Old Hag (Soucouyant)
- The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes. Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.
- The Chase Vault
- The vault was originally built in 1724 but was purchased by the Chase family when Mary Ann Chase died at the tender age of 2. The little girl was placed in the vault in a lead coffin along with the vault’s single other occupant who was interred in a wooden coffin. Just a few short years later Mary Ann’s sister Dorcas was also buried in the tomb after starving herself to death. Death continued to plague the Chase family when the sisters’ father Thomas died around a month after his eldest daughter. However, when the thick marble slab that sealed the entrance to the vault was removed, the burial team discovered that the three coffins inside had been violently tossed around and were standing against the walls of the tomb in seeming disarray. There was no evidence of human tampering with the sealed vault, and none of the other vaults in the cemetery had been affected in the same way, eliminating the possibility of earthquake or flood. Regardless, all of the coffins were placed back in their original places and Thomas’ was added to the orderly pile. Years later when the vault was once again opened to add another body to the pile, they found the coffins had been tossed around once again and were lying all about the vault. This time, before resealing the seemingly watertight and impenetrable space, a layer of sand was placed on the floor to detect any footprints should the culprits return again. After a couple of years, with the story percolating among the public, the vault was reopened to check on things, and as the story goes, it was revealed in front of throngs of curious onlookers that the coffins had once again been moved around. At this point, all of the coffins were removed from the vault and reburied elsewhere in the cemetery. The empty vault remains open to this day, filled only with ghost stories. However with no coffins to toss around, any malevolent spirit (or committed prankster) may have a hard time making themselves known.
The deadline for submissions is August 3rd, 2020. Submissions should be sent via this link. Along with the photos(s) of the artwork, artists should also submit:
- Full name
- Valid Email Address
- Cell / WhatsApp Number
- Website / Social Media Platforms
- Name of Character Re-imagined
- Title of artwork
- Brief paragraph description of the artwork
Artists have to submit their original artwork.
The Virtual Visuals Online gallery is open to those of all ages.
Artwork containing significant gore, violence, or sexual profanity will be rejected.
There is no limit to the number of artwork each artist can submit.
Submitted photos should be in high definition with plain or no backgrounds.
JPG or PNG formats would be acceptable file formats.
Artists names would be included in promotion of the gallery.
Prizes will be awarded to top artwork based on the expertise of our reviewers.
All accepted submissions will be displayed in the Virtual Visuals gallery on GineOn.com with the title of the work, description and artist name, with links to the artist’s website or social media platforms.
Submitted artwork may be used in the promotion of the Virtual Visuals online gallery on Gine On?! website and social media platforms
Artwork will be displayed on the site for the duration of the exhibition and selected pieces would be mounted in The Print 2020 gallery.
Artists shall retain all copyrights of any image they submit to the Gine On?! Virtual Visuals art gallery.