The unveiling of Cobo, the 09 festival artwork

Cobo, by festival artist, Eddie Bowen, the official artwork of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09

As Jonathan rightly said in the post preceding this one, yesterday was a busy day for us at the trinidad + tobago film festival/09. At 9 in the morning, we welcomed members of the press to our official media launch at the National Museum and Art Gallery. A couple hours, a few speeches, and several coffees later, we vacated the premises, only to return that evening for the unveiling of the 09 festival artwork: Cobo by festival artist, Eddie Bowen.
Once again, Marina Salandy Brown, executive director of the festival, was master (or is that mistress?) of ceremonies, and she kicked things off at 6:30 by introducing Bruce Paddington, the festival’s founding director. Bruce highlighted upcoming festival events and goals, and then turned the mic over to Lorraine Johnson, who spoke on behalf of the National Museum and Art Gallery. Over the past couple of years, the National Museum has shown solid support of the film festival. This year, they sponsored the production of the 100 limited edition prints of Cobo, and also funded the trip to Axelle Fine Arts, the New York City studio where the prints were made. Ms. Johnson spoke of a desire to continue the relationship between festival and museum—we second that emotion.
After Ms. Johnson, festival artist Eddie Bowen took the podium, speaking first on what an honour it was to be asked to produce the festival artwork. He also noted that it was challenging, but in a good way, to follow on the heels of last year’s successful edition, and also to have been given carte blanche to come up with anything he wanted—no limitations, no editing, no questions asked. Well, almost no questions. Tackling the cobo head on, so to speak, Eddie addressed his choice of subject matter, an act one gets the impression he has performed several times over the past few weeks. He spoke lyrically of being in Sans Souci and taking note of a cobo that circled nearby; a bird that is generally misunderstood, but one that he soon came to see as a representation of Trinidad and Tobago. Qualities such as intelligence and resourcefulness define the cobo, as does a high level of paranoia and a general mistrust. Bat an eyelid too loudly near a cobo and it will swiftly and nervously take flight, Eddie quipped. The audience laughed. Nervously, of course.
Once he had addressed the original artwork, Eddie spoke about the process of making the silkscreen over the course of four days with the skilled craftspeople at Axelle. What looks, from a distance, like a simple black and white print, is actually four layers of subtle colour, painstakingly applied. The last layer is a delicate blue iridescent ink—the powder required to make it costs an astounding US$800 per pound. After alluding to the fact that a visual cobo surprise awaits, Eddie highlighted the collaborative aspect of making the print and also of being the festival artist. He thanked everyone, from the folks at Axelle to Emilie Upczak, the festival’s creative director who took him around New York, to the guys and gals at our official design sponsor, Abovegroup, who have inverted, repeated, reflected, enlarged, and reduced the cobo as the star of our festival poster and other materials, and also our festival fashion designer, Claudia Pegus, who is in the process of designing our T-shirts and tote bags.
After Eddie spoke, Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs eloquently emphasised the need for co-mingling between the various disciplines of the arts, as well as our need to preserve and develop that which is unique to Trinidad and Tobago.
Marina then presented the National Museum with the first print of the edition, noting that the Museum will collect the first print of every edition the festival produces—two down, X number to go.
With everything said and the Cobo having taken flight, there was only one thing left to do: celebrate. And that we did.
Cobo in production at Axelle Fine Arts in New York City

Festival Artist, Eddie Bowen, speaks of the genesis of Cobo, while Marina Salandy Brown, executive director of the festival, looks on. Lapeyrouse Wall, the 2008 festival print is visible in the background
Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs
The handing over of the print to the National Museum. Left to right: festival artist Eddie Bowen; the cobo; Lorraine Johnson, Museum representative; the cobo, framed; and Marina Salandy Brown
The unveiling party in full swing
The limited edition print, Cobo, retails for TT$2,500.
For more information, contact the festival office at (+)868.621.0709 or our art sales rep, Mandilee Newton:

Date: Wed 19 Aug, 2009
Category: ttff news and features

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