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Island time does not exist in Germany

From my experience as an island girl from Barbados living in Germany, I had a bit of a culture shock, when it came to punctuality.

When Germans invite you out, they expect you to be there at least fifteen minutes early, or exactly at the time you are supposed to meet. A meeting time of eight o’clock is not eight-thirty. They will be upset if you’re late, and it’s seen as a rude gesture towards them, so don’t be fashionably late.

You are also expected to arrive for official appointments at least fifteen minutes early and wait your turn. If you are not there for your time slot, you have missed your chance, and someone who was there early will be allowed to go next.

I’ve even noticed my friends starting a timer for steeping tea, or cooking rice/ pasta and shockingly the teabags are taken out of the teapot exactly when the 5 or 7 minutes are up.

I have never done this.

When it rains heavily in the Caribbean, things move even more slowly, the traffic piles up and somehow there are missing buses. However, rain and weather in general is not an excuse for tardiness or not showing up for an appointment in Germany, or in the U.S.

In fact I once went to class in a Boston snowstorm in the dead of winter with a temperature of minus twenty degrees.

Coming from Barbados, where the locals all run on what we call ‘Island time’ which can be described as the relaxed and unhurried pace that life moves at, when on an island, I had to acclimate quickly to this new ‘prompt’ culture in Germany.

Took some time to get used to the prompt transportation system

After barely making it to my engagements on time, arriving five to ten minutes late and seeing everyone else there early, I made sure to plan my route beforehand using transportation apps and get ready earlier so that if there is a transportation mishap like missing a bus or train, I still have enough time to get to my destination on time (early!)

Public transportation in the Caribbean can be sporadic, very different from the strict and punctual services I have pleasantly observed across North America and Europe. I was in awe when I saw how timely buses and trains ran and how easy it was to get around, no matter the time of day (or night).

When the LED display counts down the five minutes until your bus/train will arrive….and it actually arrives, that made me so happy. I have spent hours waiting for buses in the Caribbean, with just a general idea of when it was supposed to come, not knowing when the bus would really appear and because of this lack of punctuality, being late for work or school as a result of a no-show or late bus adds validity to the “my bus was late” excuse.

Island time can be frustrating to people who are culturally influenced to be on time and some people can become upset when it is evident that the locals are not ruled by the same sense of time pressure because they are so used to prompt service and being attended to quickly.

Island time is all about being chill and relaxed

Islanders really mean no harm by their seemingly happy go lucky attitude, it is simply socialization.  Even Rihanna is notoriously late to perform at her concerts. It’s just something that islanders are used to. After all, when in paradise, you are in the chill zone.

Mood Lighting-Cynthia Dinan-Mitchell Inspires

After recently indulging in some dim sum on Dundas street I took a spring stroll and headed towards the 401 Richmond Building. Located next to the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the refurbished industrial building houses galleries and studios. There I encountered Open Studio, an artist run center dedicated to the making and promotion of contemporary fine art prints. To my surprise, I was unable to resist going in and visiting Cynthia Dinan-Mitchell’s latest show Mood Lighting, which was exhibited in its gallery space from March 23rd to April 21st.

Like a moth to a flame, the luscious, sparkling colors, beckoned me. There, I found silk-screened and subsequently hand painted prints that have such a lush quality I was immediately drawn into their low-lit world.

As I entered the gallery space, the first thing that caught my attention was a wall entirely covered with a  chocolate brown, honeycomb patterned paper where a large work was hung  Dinan-Mitchell is conscious of the environment where her works are shown,  and often exhibits her single-edition prints as part of installations that include other objects and elaborate decors. Here, in the gallery’s white cube, Dinan-Mitchell broke the dynamic of the clinical gallery space by presenting a central piece, Blinded Falcon (2018)

The dramatic inclusion of a gallery wall covered in a dark tapestry contributes to enhancing the chiaroscuro lighting effect Dinan-Mitchell explores in her prints. Contrary to her previous pieces, I find she has chosen to depict her subjects in high contrasts. Her use of lighting recalls the work of later 18th-century English painter Joseph Wright of Derby.

Like Wright, who depicted technological innovations of the day lighting up their surrounding subjects, Dinan-Mitchell’s light sources are also evidently man-made. In her works,  find a whole slew of varying types of lamps, bulbs and spot lights, that act as luminous origins lighting their surroundings.  When these electrical devices are considered alongside the skulls she includes, such as in Feathers and Flora (2018), these are no longer engines of artificial lighting but instead like signs warning of man’s destruction of nature.

At first the works appear deceptively decorative, due to their ornamental arrangements,  but the amalgams of symbols and art historical references play off each other. I could not escape the allusion to Dutch vanitas paintings. 

Like Golden Age Dutch still life painters, Dinan-Mitchell has a similar visual vocabulary that also includes skulls, fruits, birds, flowers and symbols of time passing, as in Pink Petals (2017). And, like these Dutch masters, Dinan-Mitchell also makes use of symbols to emphasize life’s ephemeral quality. There is a juxtaposition of the objects  that allude to man’s intervention in the natural order of things.

Typically, Dutch still life paintings portray objects arranged on a table in a manner that each is seen and credibly placed.  Dinan-Mitchell similarly brings together elements that intertwine with one another in her artwork in order to compose a new ornamental structure.

An oasis of calm, serenity and quiet awe, I greatly enjoyed my time at Cynthia Dinan-Mitchell’s Mood Lighting at Open Studio.