As anybody who has undertaken a residency will know, you may arrive with lofty ambitions as to what you want to get out of your stay, but these can quickly be usurped by basic questions of what to eat, who to talk to and how to get around. Such people may also be aware of the tendency for this line of questioning to quickly descend into the full-scale existential crisis of what am I doing here?, and who even am I?. It is testament to the support I have been given in Kingston that I have not only been saved from disappearing, hungry, into my own naval, but that I have been able to be productive in ways I could not have foreseen two months ago.
I fly back to London this weekend, and I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the many people who have helped to make my time in Jamaica so worthwhile. To anyone who has turned up to an event or helped to organise one, especially during a torrential downpour (Creative Sounds), responded to my emails, sourced or recommended texts (Annie Paul, Tracy Robinson and Demi Walker), invited me into their offices, studios and homes, invited me to speak (Oneika Russell of Edna Manley College), invited me out, toured me around galleries, shared their insights and patiently answered my many questions (Veerle Poupeye and O’Neil Lawrence of the National Gallery), offered me lifts, attempted the Herculean task of loosening my hamstrings (Elizabeth Goffe of True Self Centre of Being), delivered into my hands the city’s lunchtime delights (Delroy and Zahra of Creative Sounds), graciously refused to bat an eyelid when I appropriated their home-made protest banner as an emergency sun-shade (the Anzinger family), or simply taken the time to say hello: thank you.
I owe a significant debt of gratitude to the British Council for making my stay here possible, and for the faith and resources they have placed in my research, and last but not least to the staff at NLS, and to Deborah Anzinger, whose apparently endless reserves of energy and capacity to engage with warmth, wit and perspicacity on any range of subjects, from the horrors of croaking lizards to the artist formerly known as Rachel Dolezal and everything in between, have made my stay here at all times entertaining and intellectually enriching.
It is a strange experience to leave your familiar surroundings and set up camp over 4,000 miles away, and it is only due to the kindness and generosity of those of you that I have met here that I was able to feel at home. If ever you are in the UK, look me up and I shall return the favour.