‘The Caribbean Aesthetic’ - Richard Rawlins

Published on: February 13, 2014

RICHARD MARK RAWLINS, is a graphic designer and contemporary artist. He is the publisher of the online magazine Draconian Switch (www.artzpub.com), a co-founder of Trinidad and Tobago’s Erotic Art Week exhibition, and collaborator in the Alice Yard contemporary art-space initiative.

Does the term Caribbean or Island Aesthetic mean anything to you and if so what?

I think it’s a matter of perception, exposure and age.

Island Aesthetic


At 44 I am a post independence child. That means that I was part of a new movement heading towards a nationhood building.

The smallness and expectation of “ISLAND” culture never entered into my psyche at all. Black power was another nation shaping thing in a sense that set to put the “islandness” of things in another place once and for all.

I had aunts and uncles in UWI involved in the movement, that was about ‘black pride’. That shaped me.

Pride in self and seeing yourself as beautiful was foremost.


A decade of living in a north america opened my mind to a bigger world of possibilities, but not a wanting for replacement of what I had. If anything it left me with an even bigger sense of pride and place and appreciation for what I had an where I came from.

 All my national pride moments came from a place of “countryman ” pride vs island pride.

While I understand the clichéd…a small island nation that went before a Ms. Universe, or a Miss Worldor a Hasely Crawford or an Ato Boldon or Dwight Yorke or Brian Lara, the bigger understanding was always nationhood and people power.


 I don’t work in an environment or rather I am not around many “foriegners” or expats. 

My country is seen through my eyes as just that “my country”. I really don’t ascribe an aesthethic to it other than a love of “BREEZE” blocks. In recent times I’ve heard the “island” culture discussion coming from my own people, and I guess I would have to link it to their relationships to the large amount of Europeans that are now working  alongside them.

I think the fraternization has created a psuedo-aesthetic actually. One in which the local re-inteprates their landscape through foriegn eyes. So much so that they themselves see their country as an island and adopt terms like the ‘locals’ , when they themselves are the locals.

Final analysis:

 The discussion should really be around Banana Republicanism and the Carnivalesque adsurdity of our Political systems rather than about our Caribbean or Island Aesthetic.

The portrait of Richard and his work are thanks to richardmarkrawlins.com


Interviewer: Tanya Marie Williams-Rhule
Designer, Brand Consultant & Founder of Designer Island.



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