Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Visit


A Mother's Dream, A Child's Destiny

By Sateesh Maharaj

Many of us consider ourselves dreamers, but few of us act upon our dreams. One night, Rachael Charles had a dream so vivid, she knew it would chart the course of her family's destiny.

Speaking to the Express at the newly launched Suede Molte Art Studio at 33 Abercromby Street, St Joseph, Charles explained the genesis of the name.

"The name Suede Molte came from a dream I had about eight years ago. I am not a dreamer. I don't say that I dreamt this and it meant something. But I had a dream where I was in this fantastic house upstairs and one could look down into the foyer. While I was scrutinising the house, I saw a mat of rainbow colours. On the mat was written 'Suede Molte'. In the dream, I sat on the mat and said 'Suede Molte'. A voice then said to me as long as I sit on this mat, whatever I do will be successful.

"I kept the name, even though I didn't have any business at the time. About six years ago, I started a stationery shop and used the name Suede Molte. It was registered, and so everything we did after that used the name. My son started a business called Suede Molte Finishings and, now, my daughter had this dream of starting an art studio, and we decided to use the name Suede Molte for it."

Using a computer program, Charles summarised the translation of Suede Molte to mean "success".

"[The program] gave some lines like, 'You will run circles around your competition', so I just say it means success."

Her daughter, Jemima Charles, artist and owner of the art studio, also had a dream but one based on a reality shown to her.

"At age seven, I knew what I wanted to be...an artist," smiled Jemima Charles. "From that time till now, I've been working on it. I went to UWI (University of the West Indies) where I completed a degree in Visual Arts, and I am now teaching at the secondary school level. My students have been asking me if I could teach them outside school. A lot of people in the community ask if I can teach their children. I decided to find a place where I could practise my art, teach the public and have events and conversations concerning art."

She added: "At primary school, I did a drawing and my art teacher said, 'Oh my gosh, that is excellent! You should be an ar-tist.' She gave me that confidence and opened a whole new world for me."

Jemima said her parents also encouraged her and fostered an environment for her talent to grow.

"We were a young family. My mom and dad used their hands a lot to get by. She would crochet and sell. She would sew shoulder pads, we would package them and then she would go out and sell."

She said her confidence to sell her works also came in primary school where she would sell drawings of flowers for 25 cents.

"Children would hound me down every day for this drawing of a flower. Seeing my parents working with their hands and making a profit from it...it was just second nature for me to do the same and open my own studio."

The younger Charles says she conducts art classes at the St Joseph venue where students can learn drawing, sculpture, soap-making, crochet, macramé and other "old-school" genres of art. Children's workshops are held on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Jemima says she displays the works, so she can bring art to the people and offers the workshops, so people have an opportunity to try their hand at art.

"If you want to see art, come into my studio. If you want to do art, come into my studio. It is a full experience."

Jemima said being an artist has been challenging, but she has learned to make it work for her. She said after leaving secondary school, she had no idea what her next step would be. She said there are business and technology institutions, so school-leavers who are interested in those fields know where to go, but with art, there was a hunt to find direction. Now, she hopes to help those who want to follow an artistic path when they have left school.

"I have to create my opportunities. This is why I am starting here. I realise that I can profit from art." In 2008, she went to Japan using money raised from the sale of her works.

Launched on May 21, the space is actually a cocoa house, complete with "rolling roof", which has been converted into a studio. She hopes to eventually have a larger studio and, possibly, her own school for the arts.

Jemima believes connectivity inspires her to create.

"I try to connect to different things in life: my experiences as a female, an artist, a young person growing up in society. Right now, I am focusing on the Caribbean form and the head. I look to local faces for inspiration. Masked faces are actually interesting to me right now."

Rachael Charles said as a mother, she understood what her daughter wanted to do with her life at that tender age.

"She made it clear. In secondary school at a parent-teacher meeting, the art teacher said something that put my mind to rest. She said art was everything, from the watch you are wearing to the buildings we lived in. I knew my daughter could do this. I knew she would make it. I couldn't at that time say how, but I was there to support her in whatever way we could. She couldn't work and go to university at the same time, so her father and I took care of her. When she could work, she did; we supported her and, now, it is paying off."

—Please call 762-0364 for further information about Suede Molte studio.

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