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Blue Curry is a Bahamian artist who moved to London in 1997. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2009. He shows frequently in London with recent shows at Selfridges and the Austrian Cultural Forum.
Moving to London
My aunt moved to London 40 years ago so initially I came over on her invitation for what I thought would be a short stay. I wanted to further my studies in art and get involved in the London art scene.
I arrived at a time when the YBAs (Young British Artists) were creating work which was unlike anything going on back home. The longer I stayed the more intense that involvement and excitement for the London art scene got, so I never left.
The Bahamian Community in London
Unlike many of the other Caribbean islands we didn’t have a mass economic migration in the 1960s to the UK so those of us who have ended up in London are less of a unified community.
There are lots of Bahamians here, and a very large Bahamian student population, but you would probably never recognise them – I would say we are particularly good at blending in. Only when in the company of other Bahamians will accents come out to give the game away!
The Bahamas High Commission is really the centre of activity for The Bahamas in London. They throw a big party for Bahamians and friends every year on Independence Day. The High Commission itself has a library of Bahamian publications and is the place you can go to read a local Bahamian newspaper.
If I wanted to get Bahamian food I would probably make a beeline for my aunt’s house! Otherwise, I’d go to Brixton as there’s a lot of Caribbean food which crosses over in to Bahamian cuisine.
In Brixton market you can get red snapper, plantain and pigeon peas – all staples of some of your typical Bahamian dishes. The main thing a Bahamian might miss is conch (sea snail, pronounced “konk”) – you get conch everything in the Bahamas – in burgers, salad, soup but you’ll never find it here fresh.
Bahamian Art in London
I’m a Bahamian artist practising in London but would be the first to say the work I make is unlike much of the contemporary art produced in the Bahamas.
I work mostly in sculpture and installation, using a range of materials to create my pieces.
The work I am currently showing at the Austrian Cultural Forum in London features a coconut covered in mirrored glass and a mural painstakingly made out of thousands of black beans.
The great thing about London is that there are so many places to show, and an infinite number of ways to be involved with the art community here. It would be nice if I could have the weather from home though!
Do you know anywhere else you can find Bahamian culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.