My point of origin is Jamaica. An island of exquisite and improbable beauty, its majestic Blue Mountains, dense dark rainforests, rolling plains and aquamarine seas are unlikely backdrops for its savage past and deep, mysterious secrets. Slavery struck terrible fear into the hearts of both perpetrators and victims alike.
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, it was clear that reality was the cornerstone to be avoided at all costs. Investigating nothing, ashamed of everything, we were never to remember. I forgot my Self in the crushing collision of several traumatic histories, in which perpetrators and victims regularly switched roles. Starving for love in a colonial cane field, my sense of belonging grew progressively precarious.
Denying both shadow and light, I stifled my separation and suffering. I was dealt ‘a deep amnesiac blow’1. Desperation was mine. Deep inside I felt like Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Bertha’2, Jean Rhys’ ‘White Cockroach’3, Michelle Cliff’s ‘Madwoman in The Back Room’4.
Emotional drunks fight fear with ethanol and fire. My blood comes to the boil, a red hurricane raging and roaring along the gullies to the sea. Wounded birds are restless and fearful creatures, trembling in idolatry and envy before the status symbols of their culture.
Embracing my spiritual identity, mine is the lifelong process of reclaiming and accepting all of who “I Am”. Seeking to make sense of Caribbean pathologies, I strive to create work as a whole person. What becomes urgent is the process of authentically mapping my original and unique journey of healing and awakening. By doing so I hope to stimulate conversations around what is universal. My work, therefore, is the fire through which I journey to connect to reality and to love. Ultimately, God may be what “I Do”, as well as what “I believe”5.
1.Michelle Cliff, Abeng, 1984
2.Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, 1847
3.Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, 1966
4. Michelle Cliff, The Store Of A Million Items, 1998
5.Roberta Stoddart, The Storyteller, 2007
Images courtesy Abigail Hadeed
Copyright Roberta Stoddart 2006/2022