Suelin Low Chew Tung is a Grenadian artist with many years of exhibitions and art activism.
“The cornerstone of my work philosophy uses art to address historical ideas as part of our cultural dialogue and identity. This series speaks to the many calls from the Caribbean, including Grenada for UK reparation.”
Using Adrinkra symbols from West Africa, she intertwines local history as described from the 1829 publication by F. W. N. Bayley, “The Island Bagatelle”. This book contained political enigmas on the estates in each parish of Grenada. An intricate visual plain of colour, texture, line and shape leads the narrative. Time must be spent taking these paintings .
Suelin says, “The small canvasses of Past Present: The R (reparation) Conversation were created in London in 2015, and used as reference, the 1829 publication by F W N Bayley, The Island Bagatelle – containing political enigmas on the estates in each parish of the island of Grenada.
Fragments of English silver embossed damask wallpaper (indicative of the colonial aristocracy), fragments of copper-sheets in which had been wrapped our delicious organic Grenadian chocolate (indicative of our agricultural wealth, as well as the ‘coppers’ the large metal cauldrons used on the plantations), superimposed on layers of acrylic paint in a stereotypical brilliant Caribbean palette. A strip of old gold referenced the bulk of the wealth exported from these estates during this time. Six larger canvasses continue the series, each canvas containing fragmented names of the 127 estates listed in Bayley’s Bagatelle by parish, as well as Ashanti Adinkra symbols taken from an 1827 mourning cloth, housed at the British Museum.
The front cover of Bayley’s work shows an (Imperial) crown, topped by a monde and une croix pattée or ‘footed cross’ which is particularly associated with crowns in Christian countries. The croix pattée bears a striking resemblance to Ashanti Adinkra Mmusuyidee – a symbol of good fortune and sanctity. It is interesting to note the symbol ‘that which removes bad luck’ in one culture is, for the other, a symbol of empire (and domination of the former culture).”