Artist Naima Sutton Explores the Role of Music in Caribbean Communities

“I make work based on how I view the spaces around me, and that’s always through music.”

A report by Diyora Shadijanova for Vice.

Every summer, University of the Arts London holds physical showcases for their graduates. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, everything for 2020 has been moved online, to UAL Graduate Showcase – a virtual platform created with IBM, hosting work from thousands of students across art, design, fashion, communication, media and performing arts.

Artist: Naima Sutton

RESONANCE is a project by Naima Sutton that explores culture, identity, nostalgia and the role of music in Caribbean communities. The work is made up of collages, digital art and an installation of vintage televisions, sound speakers and neon lights on the artist’s balcony. The artist builds up the character of the city by emulating tower blocks through stacking objects.

“I always make art about music, and I often look outward and think about how music affects people around me and the communities around me,” says Sutton. “But because of the [COVID-19] situation, I decided to do something I hadn’t done before and turn it inwards, looking at my own relationship with it.


“You know when you’re listening to a song and your brain drifts off, you remember something from when you were a kid or a particular food or place – those internal associations you make with music are so difficult to explain to anybody. So the videos playing on the televisions are a kind of visual interpretation of that. I have taken found footage and cut it together with how a song made me feel.


“Music is such a pillar within the Caribbean community, because it’s a form of celebration. So I make work based on how I view the spaces around me, and that’s always through music. I spent about two-and-a-half weeks straight, dragging massive speakers back and forth across London that I found on Gumtree. But it was really nice to do that because I felt like I developed a relationship with the piece itself. I guess that kind of emulates Caribbean music culture, which is all about exchange. It’s never static, even when you think about how those things are produced.


“Personally, I struggle with exhibiting in galleries because I don’t feel like they’re accessible. So when I was younger, I started off doing mostly graffiti because I was growing up around Bristol. My favourite places to exhibit work are always really rough spaces, like warehouses. And the one I did for my degree show was on my balcony, because it just feels like it has a relationship with the space as well. I want to ask: how does my art interact with the environment around me?”

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