by John Robert Lee and Shal­lon Fadlien

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOK REVIEW - By Clau­dia Elei­box This book is avail­able at The bookYard. Visit us to­day, email us at the bookyard@stlu­ci­as­, or call the Star on 450 7827 for more de­tails.

The book Song & Sym­phony is a beau­ti­ful or­ches­tral per­for­mance by John Robert Lee and Shal­lon Fadlien. The un­usual as­pect is that nei­ther Lee nor Fadlien plays a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment. Through paint­ing and po­etry they have cre­ated “that per­sis­tent chord com­ing through the hibis­cus edge” as it is truly a rhyth­mic ex­pe­ri­ence read­ing the pages.

The po­etic sym­phony is sep­a­rated into two move­ments and a fi­nale, as John Robert Lee, through his words, ac­cen­tu­ates the al­ready vi­brant colours of Shal­lon Fadlien’s sym­phony of paint­ings.

Shal­lon Fadlien is a Saint Lu­cian artist who re­sides in Canada. Dur­ing last year’s Arts Vil­lage of the Saint Lu­cia Jazz and Arts Fes­ti­val, Fadlien fea­tured her Sym­phony Series for the first time on this is­land.

I sup­pose there is a magic about any art form that at­tracts one mas­ter to an­other un­til they feel com­pelled to make mu­sic to­gether. Ac­cord­ing to John Robert Lee, he might have first met the painter at an M&C Fine Arts Ex­hi­bi­tion but, more re­cently, he was most in­trigued by the work that she posted on Face­book. Lee is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to Saint Lu­cian lit­er­a­ture. He be­gan writ­ing po­etry to Fadlien’s paint­ings and, be­cause of this, Song &

Sym­phony was birthed, just like crys­tal voices singing along with per­cus­sion, wind and string in­stru­ments.

Ev­ery paint­ing from Fadlien’s Sym­phony Series de­picts a man and a wo­man uni­fied by a gui­tar, cello, vi­olin or an­other mem­ber of the string fam­ily. In some of the pieces there is an ap­pear­ance of a child and the shap­ing of a womb, but the three be­ings are never joined the same way. Fadlien uses the con­stants of mu­sic, male and fe­male uni­son, and the vari­able of dif­fer­ent points in a re­la­tion­ship.

Lee’s po­etry sum­mons im­agery from Saint Lu­cian flora and scenery from land­scapes in Balata, Grande Riviere and sur­round­ing ar­eas. But more promi­nently he fol­lows suit of male and fe­male re­la­tion­ships and de­scribes the meet­ing, fall­ing in love, mar­riage and con­sum­ma­tion of a cou­ple.

Both artists have a sen­sual ef­fect: Fadlien by us­ing pos­tures, cur­va­ture and colour, and Lee by play­ing with the po­etic de­vices of rep­e­ti­tion and al­lit­er­a­tion to de­scribe the sen­sa­tions of peo­ple in love and cre­ate an aura of soul­ful mu­sic.

Song & Sym­phony is a pub­li­ca­tion made pos­si­ble by the No­bel Lau­re­ate Fes­ti­val Com­mit­tee. The theme for the 2017 edi­tion of the fes­ti­val is “Cel­e­brat­ing Ex­cel­lence: Fos­ter­ing Na­tional Pride” and this book doesn’t fail on ei­ther. John Robert Lee and Shal­lon Fadlien are both ap­pre­ci­ated artists in Saint Lu­cia, proof that art is a liv­ing form in the is­land, but many would agree with Lee that there is still work to be done. The No­bel Lau­re­ate Fes­ti­val Com­mit­tee and other or­gan­i­sa­tions con­tinue to in­vest in and por­tray our artists. As Saint Lu­cians, we just need to keep show­ing what we’re made of and cre­ate our own ‘Song & Sym­phony’.

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