Water Carry Me Go Artist Profile: Robert Young (Trinidad and Tobago)

In anticipation of the fashion-art exhibit Water Carry Me Go, we’ve created a series introducing all of the designers involved. Read the rest of them here.

Robert Young – Trinidad and Tobago

robert Young the cloth

Robert Young is the designer behind the label, the Cloth, which has come to represent a unique, dynamic and always original Caribbean aesthetic. Robert is perhaps best described as subversively nationalistic influenced, no doubt, by the wider region, which provides the perfect backdrop for his practical, psychedelic and playful designs. Each collection seems to represent a variation on a similar theme yet always aware of the global trends without losing sight of the context of his environment. As a result, The Cloth has become a much anticipated showstopper at many a showcase in the region and throughout the Diaspora. We’re proud to introduce Robert as one of the featured artists in Water Carry Me Go.

How did you approach the theme of water for your piece in Water Carry Me Go?I thought about it firstly on a psychological and emotional level and a level of healing. Our earth is made up of large bodies of water connecting us all. I thought about our histories before petroleum – before we could fly –  we moved on water to get from one place to the next. My early ancestors chose to travel this way of their own free will and later in history my more recent ancestors’ bodies were involuntarily brought to this side of the world by water. And now, resources are moved from one group of people who may own a lot of the resources to just a few people who then hold these resources. And by noticing that, I thought about how it impacts the individual and how they can reconcile their sense of themselves, their people and the peoples of the rest of the earth.

The applique incorporated in the dress is moveable – some parts could be hidden because I believe that is how we remember things. The things that are much more painful we can’t find easily. The things that are more recent seems like the whole story, but there is always a root. This dress is basically about our own interrogation.

What motivated you to be involved in the project?

I was delighted to be invited. I missed attending a meeting I have attended for 23 years to go instead to the pan-am games and this opportunity is a result of that choice. I followed the path of closing off one opportunity and opening up another and let it manifest itself. I’m working with a good team of people. As part of the African Diaspora artists, I would like to meet other designers. Mainly, I want to meet these people and be part of a collective to attempt to bring our works to a more diverse audience.

What does your workspace look like right now? Is there anything else you want to add?

I have just returned from a trip to the US and am enjoying The Cloth‘s workspace, which is filled with my designs and materials for my Water Carry Me Go dress. I am surrounded by 15 windows that are 6 feet tall by 2 feet wide, and the space is nestled under a mango tree. Nearby are drawings and materials for The Cloth’s  other current projects, including developing a carnival band’s costumes and dressing multiple steel bands for this month’s Panorama Festival here in Trinidad.

In 2016, it is my intention to build The Cloth’s capacity for greater production and distribution in a way that will supports and uplift the team of designers and producers who will accomplish this goal.

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