Chelsea Ramotar has been spinning a web of awe with her sculptures and just recently her latest piece ‘Bloom’ was selected as the ‘National Gift’ and presented at this year’s Miss World Auction.
The 21-year-old final-year student at the University of Guyana, who is reading for a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, shared that ‘Bloom’ began as an observation and came from the concept of change in a person’s life at some point or another. “The concept was change and that change is necessary, and change is good. I wanted to find a way to illustrate this in a way that would peak people’s interest. When I think of change, I think of getting rid of something old to bring about something new. The head on the sculpture’s lap is the old version and the flower blooming is the new version,” Chelsea said. She noted that the old head was staring up at the new version of itself, understanding and accepting that change is necessary and only though change are we able to bloom.
Most of ‘Bloom’ was made of chipped pinewood that was glued together, while the head was sculpted and the blossoming flower atop made from wood carvings to present the final product.
The talented young woman who grew up in Berbice, attended New Amsterdam Primary prior to moving to the Bahamas. Speaking about her love for art, Chelsea shared that she had been colouring and doodling from a tender age and although she was exposed to a wider variety of art forms on the Caribbean island through social media, it was not until she returned to Guyana that she decided to pursue the subject. Many of her doodles were basically drawings of her family. Asked whether she ever got into trouble because of her drawings, Chelsea said she was always a diligent student, so it never crossed her mind to be doing anything besides listening to her teacher once work was being done.
Speaking about how involved her parents were in her passion, Chelsea noted that they always ensured there were enough crayons and paper whenever she needed them.
The artist said communication was one of her biggest challenges as she had always been timid and when she did try to be verbal, she didn’t quite know how to get her ideas across. Painting and sculpting provided the means for her to do so. Her sculpting, she noted, started back in secondary school. She bought a polymer clay which she used to make figurines, animals and food.
“My inspirations,” Chelsea said, “are some of my colleagues. In the art studio at UG we’re very experimental. We take ordinary things and make it into something worth calling art. My lecturer, Mr Winslow Craig is one of my main inspirations. He motivates me and makes me believe in myself. He always says, ‘you can do this or it’s not hard and if it goes wrong you can still fix it or add it and it’s not wrong or a mistake but instead a different way of doing something’. That really made me more open-minded and less fearful about trying new things. I see myself now as someone who is much more confident.
‘I like Bernadette Persaud’s paintings also. She’s more of an impressionist artist.”
Three years ago, when Chelsea set out to pursue art, she was not yet sure what it was that she was going to specialize in, but knew it was going to be something in the art field. In fact, her parents, she said, had somewhat known that she was heading in this direction before she applied to study at the university. She tried just about everything including sculpting, drawing, painting, ceramics and textiles. She realized her passions were painting and sculpting. Chelsea shared that when she started, she wanted to do painting but wasn’t get the hang of it, so she decided to try her hand at sculpting during the second semester of the third year and realized that this was the breakthrough that she needed. Her painting, she added, is evolving.
She paints and sculpts best when she is happy. However, while Chelsea creates when she is at her best, the concepts for creating usually appear through her own personal struggles. She explained that at the time the idea came about for Bloom, she had her own change of moving from adolescence into adulthood.
For the most part, Chelsea has had one main challenge and that was creating what everyone else wanted instead of what she wanted. It mattered to her that her clients were satisfied. Most of her sculpting, she said, was done this year. She has so far created ‘Awakening’, ‘Return Home’, ‘Bloom’ and two other untitled pieces. The first piece, a face made of sawdust that was compacted and then polished in metallic, is untitled. ‘Return Home’ was the first of the chipped wood sculptures. “That was called ‘Return Home’ because of two concepts – the first one being the way the pinewood is being covered in the moss which represents the way everything goes back to nature; when we discard them they become overgrown with weeds. And the second concept was that we too return to the earth after our life here. The hand represents humans and greenery represents nature.
Her favourite is ‘Bloom’ she said, adding that this was her to the fullest and as it turns out it was the piece that caught the attention of many persons. ‘Bloom’ took her a little over a week to create. It was also the piece she was most connected to, with change being so present in her life. Many of her colleagues and lecturers are mentioning to her how much better she is getting as they can now see more of a confident Chelsea instead of the timid one who walked into UG three years ago.
Craig, she added, commended her on her work saying that he was happy that she was working enthusiastically now.
She confided that she often finds that after selling a piece, she’s thinking that maybe there was something more she could have added to make it even more exceptional than it already is. However, she’s working on believing that her work amazing.
Looking at where Guyana is today in art, Chelsea said it is a long way off from where it can be; even at the university, art is not recognized as important as other studies. Nonetheless, Chelsea is hoping to become a full-time artist. “To improve on art in Guyana, I think investing in more arenas to expose art and having exhibitions every month,” Chelsea opined. “If you ask a Guyanese person to name an artist, very few can do so. I think we should target our Guyanese more than we should our tourists.”
She has had her work displayed at four exhibitions – A final year exhibition at Castellani House in June, Filling the Void (August), Oxygen Arts Exhibition (September) and Seeing is Believing (November) at Duke Lodge. Artists visiting the exhibitions would question her as to how her pieces were done and what materials she used, while non-artists would easily gravitate towards them saying how much they loved her pieces. There have been persons wanting to kiss her pieces or trying to imitate the positions of the hands that were sculpted. Many persons took photographs.
In a decade’s time Chelsea sees herself having her own art gallery where she can have her work displayed and that of other artists. She hopes to be settled with her own family by then also.
In her free time the talented Scorpio enjoys watching movies especially from Marvel comics.
Her two favourite dishes are cook-up and beef curry.
Chelsea likes working with all colours, but when it comes to picking out something from a store for herself, she often finds herself choosing something pink or close to it.
For a closer look at Chelsea’s pieces, check Facebook at chlsa.art and Instagram at chlsa_art.