Holly Bynoe: “I depend on the kindness of strangers”

Travel tips from Vincentian artist and ARC magazine editor Holly Bynoe

Vincentian artist and ARC magazine editor Holly Bynoe. Photograph courtesy Holly Bynoe

Launched in early 2011, ARC magazine has quickly won an enthusiastic audience for its coverage of contemporary Caribbean art, with a focus on younger artists close to the cutting edge. Based in Bequia, editor-in-chief Holly Bynoe — also an artist and curator — spends much of her time travelling to fulfil a busy programme of launches, exhibitions, and other art-world events.

What’s the place you’ve travelled to that surprised you the most, and why?

I visited London for the first time in 2011, to produce the exhibition Forever Forged, Forever Becoming in collaboration with the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora. I was very much drawn to the familiarity of the streets, the façades, and the general aura of the flow of the city. There was a certain colonial staging to the order and the circuitry that I inherently recognised, and felt combative with.

I don’t often travel alone, and I did for this particular trip, so I took my time and didn’t have to manage anyone else’s expectations. In many ways, I was able to wander and gaze at a pace that didn’t feel too metropolitan — meaning I wasn’t rushed, and I allowed things to progress organically during my hectic work schedule.

You’ve visited galleries and other art spaces across the region. Do you have a favourite one, and what makes it special?

Popopstudios International Centre for Visual Art in the Bahamas has been the unique Caribbean creative community experience for me. There is a diffusion of hierarchies and the formation of one solid community that works like a well-oiled machine.

At Popopstudios they allow for experimentation and have an increasing regionalised view of Caribbean art. There is something special in the Bahamian creative community, and Popopstudios is an anomaly in the Caribbean, where networks and niches are pervasive.

How do you cope with being away from home so often?

I make sure to travel with very homely and comfortable casual clothing that allows me to adjust swiftly to new spaces. I do a lot of investigation when I travel to new countries, ensuring I always have a wifi connection and proper electrical connections in order to keep up with work. Getting enough rest and water, and eating foods with little sugar content before I travel, means that I have adequate energy. If all else fails, the triple shot: finding good coffee is crucial to my well-being. That said, being over-caffeinated when travelling can be terribly uncomfortable. I need to find my happy medium.

I usually depend on the kindness of strangers, colleagues, and my friends to ensure that my accommodation, transport, and all else is in place.

What places are still on your wish list?

Iceland, Argentina, Hong Kong, Micronesia, and the entire West Coast of the United States. I am in the preparatory phases of planning this epic US trip with three close compatriots and artists.

If you had to leave your house with five minutes’ notice to catch a plane to the other side of the world, what essential things would you take with you?

My computer, camera, and hard drive would be on the top of the hasty grab — not sure how I’d survive without them. Also comfortable shoes, pajamas, and my stack of vitamins and medication to promote proper rest and relaxation.

If you could have an all-expenses-paid vacation anywhere in the Caribbean, where would you choose?

Guyana or Belize. I haven’t been to these countries yet, and could profit from a fully immersive experience and some alone-time exploring their cuisines, capitals, historic sites, rivers, and interiors.