(Painting by Brianna Mccarthy)
(Today's the first of a series of interviews/features of women in visual and graphic art. The interview is mostly unedited for deeper insight. Read on and Enjoy!)
Intro: The first thing I noticed about Brianna Mccarthy's girls were their eyes. Sometimes they're defiant, sometimes they're alluring and soulful. What strikes me most is that when I look at the eyes in her paintings I feel I've seen these girls before. Not on the canvas but on the streets of Trinidad and Tobago, our mutual home. So I had to talk to her about her inspiration...
Tell me a bit about your background: where are you from in Trinidad/Tobago? What was it like growing up there?
I’m a Curepe girl. I grew up on a street that was more rural than you would expect for an area so close to UWI (Editor: UWI is a university in Trinidad). The children were barefooted and active - I was a tomboy. I have many, many scars to show for that now. The environment was so saturated with all that Trinidad’s culture had to offer that I thought everyone got their eyebrows burnt off at least once “bussing bamboo” at Divali, that everyone had been to a Spiritual Baptist thanksgiving and had that hair raising experience, that Hindu weddings down the street were an everyday part of life. I think my short life has been one that I wouldn’t change; not because it’s been peachy or anything but because I believe that rough spots smooth my character.
Do you think your background has influenced your work? If yes, how so.
Definitely. I grew up in an extended family; I’m the youngest of 4 daughters. My family also possesses the Trinidadian uniqueness of being very mixed in terms of ethnicity. I have, for as long as I can recall, been fascinated by women I believed to be solid, proud and unique. I think strength is a beautiful thing and I saw many strong, individual, some might say odd, women growing up. I think those things make up the fibers that hold my work together.
I realise that you mainly paint girls. Why so? Do these figures reflect people you know/see in real life?
I find women very beautiful. I love the elements that make faces unique. I don’t have people sit for portraits though I do I see my sisters in my work alot. Otherwise, I don’t draw people I know or have seen, I may end up taking elements from their faces and making a new one. I have come to realise that my girls are largely self portraits of some kind or in some way. I think this is because what I do is about making sense of my experiences and using aspects of myself allows me to better express that...
(Look out for part two of the conversation Next Thursday...)
To see more of Brianna's work, look at her portfolio here
To know more of her daily thoughts, read her blog here
(All Pictures courtesy Passion Fruit, Brianna Maccarthy's blog)
Look out for part two of the conversation Next Thursday