By Lakhram Bhagirat
For centuries, art has been used as a medium for communicating our innermost feelings. It has been used to express what we cannot fathom to say while exposing our vulnerabilities. The world of art is vast and there is space for everyone.
Art adds meaning to life and everyone who appreciates art shares that sentiment.
Young Christine Doris is one of Guyana’s newest artists having completed her stint at the Burrowes School of Art after being held up because of the COVID-19 pandemic and now she is ready to take the world by storm. Her creativity is bursting and she is excited to share all her unique ideas with the rest of the world.
“For me art allows me to express what I am feeling and while it may not be everything that I am feeling, through my work I can paint a picture of what my thoughts are. My art is meant to add meaning to life and offer an escape to what we can do and be as a people. It is not all glittery and rosy but it shows what we can do to make ourselves better,” the 24-year-old said.
Christine spent her childhood between Meten-Meer-Zorg and Crane on the West Coast of Demerara after her parents split up when she was about six years old. One day, she was on an errand to the neighbourhood shop and came across a “really nice” painting on the shop’s wall which captivated her. She stood there and stared at it for quite a while, becoming inspired and wanting to replicate it.
Eventually, she went home with that fire in her thinking about all the possibilities with her art. At the time, she owned a kid-friendly version of the bible that had pictures to depict the stories, she took that out and began attempting to replicate what she saw. Being so young also meant that she had very little understanding of the effort that goes into creating such pieces as well as the various techniques.
“I have always had that desire to create the same figures and scenes that I would have seen and so I have a sister name Marcella and I would challenge her to draw with me and from since then I have been drawing and painting. Primary school days I enjoyed drawing in class and so on. In secondary school I picked up arts in Form Three. That was when I was going to Leonora Secondary School and I got into contact with Sir Clarkie and he attended Burrowes School of Arts and when we met him, he told us what his experience was like at Burrowes and I was like that is the place for me and from since then, I always imagined myself being at Burrowes,” she related.
Being armed with the idea that there is a place where she can hone her talent and follow the dream of becoming an artist made Christine hopeful for her future. She worked hard throughout her secondary schooling to ensure she was positioned to take advantage of the opportunity at Burrowes.
In 2017, she officially joined classes at Burrowes and the feeling was overwhelming.
“The first day when I came to Burrowes it was like a dream come through for me and I was so excited. Nothing good comes easy and even though I was always excited about Burrowes, the work I had to put in and the effort and patience and time and so on made me never take the opportunity for granted,” she said.
When asked whether her family is an artistic one, Christine said that as far as she can recall, her mother’s side is not. However, on her father’s side, his mother is of Indigenous roots and she believes that genetics is what passed on the passion to pursue the arts. She was quick to also state that her father has a knack for collecting unique items, something she finds to be “a bit strange.”
At Burrowes, Christine is deviating a bit from the traditional forms of art and entering into the world of leather craft. She is also minoring in jewellery making. For her, those aspects of art challenges her the most and it falls in line with the plan she has for her life.
“I want to be an entrepreneur. Growing up, my grandmother used to be selling the salt bag handbag in the market and I used to help her and with that business mindset and that husting spirit I kinda have that passion to create work on a big scale. So I want to venture out in exporting my own work and putting myself out there and that is why I am going in this direction of leather craft and jewellery.”
Speaking about her “major task” which is the art school’s equivalent of a final project for graduation, Christine said that she chose the theme “Guyana United” which seems applicable right now in light of all the polarising events Guyana has experienced in the past. When she started this project, about two years ago, she did not envision it taking her so long nor did she expect it would have been so relevant.
“What I have done is that I created a 6-foot map of Guyana to remind us of the accomplishments we have achieved over the years. One side represents unity of the people and the other is showcasing the flora and fauna aspect of our wildlife and harmony with nature. The majority of the material is leather but I tried to exhaust the various technique. I utilised my painting skills to add life and meaning. We have a rich history as a nation and I believe that Guyana has so much potential for greatness but only can be achieved if we work together. My task isn’t to tell us what to do but inspiring us on what we can do,” Christine explained.
“I love expressing emotions but I am sometimes afraid to express certain ideas so art somewhat allows me to go to my restricted place and be vulnerable. So in future I want to be expressive with emotions and so on but in terms of the work I have displayed, I realised that Guyana have so much potential for greatness so I went deeper into expressing ways in which we can unite and work together and so on.”
For her to begin creating her masterpieces, Christine transports herself to a place where there is no pressure to excel. She starts with simple sketches of her ideas and then work them up to a place where she is pleased with what she has on paper. Then comes the part of creating and translating what is on that paper to her actual projects. It is a process that takes precision, time and dedications – all character traits that Christine exemplifies.
To young and upcoming artists, Christine advised “Whatever you are working towards, you have to be diligent about it and you have to be serious about it. You might see some people in the world of business and excelling at great heights, things are happening for them and you want the same for you but if you don’t want to put in the work that is needed then you can never accomplish what you want.
I find a lot of young people want to get rich and doing big things but they don’t want to put the work in. You have to put the work in and sometimes you have to pull long nights or lose sleep. Diligence, patience and knowing your purpose as a person are some important things.”
If you want to get into contact with Christine to purchase her artwork, you can contact her on 680-2354.