“I was stunned; walking into a boat house and hearing the beauty of live opera wafting on the air was not what I expected.” Visitor Benaiah Matheson from Carriacou, expressed his initial response to Grenada’s National Pavilion for its opening on 18 May.
An art and sailing-loving crowd joined Commissioner Susan Mains and Curator Luisa Flora as the doors opened on 18 May at the Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia, Fondamenta C. Giazzo, near the Bacini Vaporetto stop in Arsenale Nord.
The wooden boats of the builders at that association stood at the ready while videos of the interviews with boat builders in Carriacou played. Alwyn Enoe, Captain Nero, Che MacDonald shared their life in wooden boat building. The crafted little boats of Ribar Stari that he made from detritus from the lagoon hung in installation, lit by the “Moon” provided by Andacosta Lighting, an Italian sponsor. The magical atmosphere was enhanced by the flotilla of little boats with a flip flop for a sail inundated the room. Wishes of goodwill have been written on the sails from all over the world, and now more will be added by the visitors to the pavilion.
Gracing the evening’s events was the musical presentation by opera star Melinda Hughes and her troupe. She had written a new composition based on the poem ‘A Venezia’ by Venetian poet Chiara Carminati. Carminati’s words describing a painter’s love for Venice fit perfectly to this undulating melody which then gently morphs into a Caribbean freeform improvisation for Djembe and cello. The cello djembe improvisation underscores the poem “Fleet de la Caraïbe” recited by Grenadian poet Samuel Ogilvie. Bringing the rhythm on the djembe, was Asher Mains. It was a great honour to enjoy the accompanying cellist to be provided by a player from La Fenice, the great opera house of Venice, Antonino Puliafito.
The room was filled to capacity with wellwishers, some of whom have been following Grenada’s successive pavilions for years. A very special visitor passed the next day, Grenadian Shane Laptiste, who is a principal of the Canadian architectural firm SOCA.architecture which was showing a project in the Canadian Pavilion in the Garden. His family is from Grenville and La Digue, and he works in Toronto. He said about Grenada’s pavilion: “I was interested in exploring this pavilion for its organic connection to the context, to the water and to Venice. It’s really a great conceptual idea.” Find him on Instagram @SOCA.architecture.
The Grenada Pavilion does not feature one headliner architect, but a crew of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to exhibit Grenada in the heart of Europe. Some 17 people have contributed texts, videos, research, time and energy all for the love of Grenada. Absolutely necessary are the contributions of many individual sponsors, and also the support of the Grenada Arts Council, The Grenada National Lotteries Authority and the Grenada Tourism Authority.
The exhibit is free and continues through 26 November. More reports to come! Follow on Instagram at @grenadapavilionvenice. See more on the website grenadavenice.org.
Grenada Arts Council
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