Jabari Alleyne (left) and Matthew Gittens. (Picture by Dominique Bonnett.)
Matthew Gittens and Jabari Alleyne are on a mission to promote change. Their project is the cultural landscape in Barbados and how the creatives are viewed.
Both 26 years old, the best friends say they are slowly seeing progress and hope their contribution will help bring more attention to how much talent is on this rock.
The two have formed the company Ascension Projix, registered it in October 2015 and for the past two years have spent their days and nights trying to bring their concepts to life.
“We were in first form together at Harrison College and formed a friendship. We continued in the same forms for our entire high school life and then entered the University of the West Indies,” said Matthew.
“We are best friends,” stated Jabari as they deferred to each other throughout the interview to enlighten me on their objectives and goals.
Jabari always wanted to be the Prime Minister of Barbados or a doctor. When he decided that seeing blood was his nemesis he instead did a double major in economics and maths, graduating with a bachelor in sciences.
Matthew also wanted to be a doctor then changed to be an engineer and then changed again. At UWI, he enrolled in law school and then transferred to do economics.
“While at UWI, I felt this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I felt stifled and changed my course of thinking after one semester. I had gotten into buying and selling cars during my summer there and I saw that I was good at entrepreneurship and from there, I said I wanted to work for myself.”
Jabari at that time was working after graduation at Shell Oil and when the company, restructuring saw him being out of a job, he decided to throw in his lot with Matthew.
“I knew Matthew and from Harrison College we wanted to start a T-shirt line so the business idea was always there. So when I was looking for something after Shell Oil, I said this could be the start of a great future.”
What the duo saw was a need for arts and fashion and enlightening corporate Barbados to how invaluable artists are.
What Ascension Projix does is have a core of artists focused on promoting contemporary culture while making a livelihood out of the venture.
“A client can need a piece for their home or business and we source that piece that fits their aesthetics,” said Matthew.
They see art as part of the cultural identity of Barbados.
“There are so many artists here that have so many creative ideas – from doing sculptures to murals to glass art to even photography,” said Jabari. “All they need is someone to push it.”
If you need a painting for your wall, designing the labels on merchandise, marketing material used for promotion and customer acquisition, even to the awards used to celebrate employee service excellence, Ascension Projix believes that there is local artistic talent to meet every need.
While the guys are proud of their work done for the 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations (mall wide exhibition at Sky Mall titled Dis Is Where We From), they are looking at future “projixs”.
“There is Make Art Visible which intends to bring art to everyday spaces in every parish by ideally placing one mural and one installation which will celebrate our Barbadian heritage,” said Matthew, who is the creative director.
The duo says they hope the pieces would be included on the tours done daily around the island by tourism partners.
Then there is Underappreciated, an exciting projix that they cant wait to start.
“We have conceptualised a project, which seeks to, by next month, have an underwater art installation.
They will be sinking a collection of art pieces.
“As the name suggests, the goal is to generate interest in local art by having it featured in an innovative way, encouraging locals and tourists to free-dive, snorkel, scuba dive or go out on a glass bottom boat to view these pieces.
“There will be a short documentary shot on this project, which will include brief interviews with the artists involved sharing their views on our cultural landscape, as well as with marine biologists speaking on our marine environment, where we are facing issues such as water pollution, overfishing and the damage and reduction of coral reefs,” they explained.
The installation will be safely secured at the bottom of Carlisle Bay and the plan is to change the pieces annually and have them auctioned.
“We want to get Barbados to international standards in terms of how art is seen and appreciated. Countries worldwide celebrate their artists. The paintings have museums, there are sculptures in public spaces and even art shows monthly.
“We just want corporate Barbados to be on board in a major way as we all know things of these nature need financial support,” said Jabari, who is chief operationg officer.
They don’t want to overload their plates so they are taking on one “projix” at a time.
The fashion line will be the next venture in the pipeline and while they get their social media profile more into the limelight, their door is open to all creatives who share the same vision. (NS)