Octopus House Residency Update
Gibraltar Cultural Services on behalf of the Ministry for Culture is pleased to announce the ‘Octopus House Artist in Residence’, an initiative which is being organised by the Rock Retreat in collaboration with GCS. Photographer Rhiannon Adam and writer Cecil Browne will spend over a week in Gibraltar, from 8th – 16th October, using the Rock as a destination of interest for their photographic and literary exploits and related creative outputs. As part of the residence, participants will be living at Octopus House in the upper town immersing themselves in the Rock and deepening their research about Gibraltar. The Rock Retreat’s Eleanor Taylor Dobbs aim and vision is to inspire them with the rich tapestry of culture, history and location available here.
Rhiannon Adam is a photographer with a profound interest in The British Overseas Territories. Her voyage to Pitcairn Island and exquisite exhibition and book that resulted has won numerous awards. The artist has a connection with Gibraltar too, stemming back to her childhood on board her parent’s boat. Adam’s work is heavily influenced by her “nomadic childhood spent at sea” Her analogue photography process captures liminal worlds and is an important social documentary. Rhiannon is one of the eight original artists selected to be part of the ultimate art residency, a voyage round the moon project.
Cecil Browne won the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story regional Prize for Canada, UK and Europe with ‘A Hat for Lemar’. Set in post-emancipation St Vincent, the story is dear to him and has been described as taking the reader on a journey that surprises at every turn. Cecil has published several books with his short stories also featured in collections and anthologies. Born in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the author has lived in England since his teens and was a London College Lecturer in Mathematics, and Head of Maths for ten years. He describes his writing as ‘exploring the nature of relationships, the interactions with others and also with ourselves. My main focus is on the lives of Caribbean people both home and abroad, as they navigate a course in the world’.
The author believes the Retreat will provide an opportunity to immerse himself in life on the Rock, to explore its physical beauty, culture, education, cuisine, art and literature. Over the course of the week, he hopes to gain some knowledge of the way Gibraltarians define themselves, to compare and contrast this with Caribbeans.
The project will afford the visiting artists the opportunity to live in the historic Upper Town area and discover the complex layers that make up Gibraltar and its people. Part of their trip will include the delivery of a public talk on their work as well as school visits, with more details to be announced soon.
Referring to her time on the Rock, Rhiannon remarked that one of her happiest childhood experiences was spending a season in Gibraltar, recalling it involved churros! Adam’s projects straddle photography and social documentary, focusing on “complex narratives relating to climate change, social injustice, outsider communities”. Later this year (following the Gibraltar residency) Rhiannon will be joining the “ultimate artist residency”, a voyage around the moon. The Japanese art collector Yusaku Maezawa has selected eight individuals, including Rhiannon, to accompany him on a space voyage around the moon later this year. The six-day mission, called dearMoon, will take place aboard Starship, a rocket being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX . Rhiannon will be taking her analogue camera equipment with her.
“I was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines but have lived in England since my teens. I was a London College Lecturer in Mathematics, and Head of Maths for ten years. A short story of mine, Coming Off the Long Run, was published by Telegram Books in a Commonwealth anthology, So Many Islands in 2018. I was the regional winner for the UK, Europe, and Canada in the Commonwealth Short Story 2022 competition with A Hat for Lemer, set in post-emancipation St Vincent.
In October 2022, I appeared at the Bocas Caribbean Literature Festival at the British Library and was subsequently invited to participate in the festival again in Trinidad in April 2023. My work portrays the lives of Caribbean people in an engaging way. I am currently working on the casebook of a female Caribbean private investigator, Cassie P.
Discovering that I was the regional winner filled me with a private joy, but this quickly turned into the kind of joy I experience when the family is together for some function, all three generations, along with our close friends. ‘A Hat for Lemer’ portrays early Vincentian society, and the dilemma Lemer faces as she seeks to define a role for herself within that society. The story is dear to me. Within it are people with energy and drive, optimists negotiating a world both restricting and modern.’”