Heather Guess, Race Week Rivals, 2011, Digital print, 16 in x 24 in (40.64 cm x 61 cm)

Heather Guess, Race Week Rivals, 2011, Digital print, 16 in x 24 in (40.64 cm x 61 cm) Race Week in Anguilla, BWI

Race Week in Anguilla, BWI

Historically, boats play a prominent role in Anguillan culture. Considering that boat racing is the island’s national sport, sailing regattas regularly transpire and they are often the focal point of local holidays. Carnival is Anguilla’s most popular sailing celebration in which locals race their custom built and designed boats. Local art gallerist Courtney Devonish notes, “One of the reasons boat building and boat racing had become so popular was because it was one of Anguillan’s means of survival. They struggled to buy goods from other places because the local soil could not provide them with crops and groceries. It’s interesting– the history of the boating industry here.” The 1930s led to the seasonal migration of Anguillan workers predominantly to Santo Domingo and Barbados to carry out the harvesting of sugar cane. The outbound voyages were downwind, which made for an easy sail.  However, the return trips along the northern Caribbean waters required skillful navigation that involved multiple tacks and zigzagging. Anguillans quickly embraced the challenge by turning the journey home into a friendly competition. The goal was to be the first schooner back at the Anguilla port.  These annual trips coincided with the first week of August, the same time that Anguilla celebrates their emancipation. Subsequently, this tradition was appointed “Race Week” and has since become a highly anticipated week of revelry.

Heather Guess, Maritime 3, 2011, Digital print, 36 in x 19 in (61 cm x 30.48 cm)

Heather Guess, Maritime 3, 2011, Digital print, 36 in x 19 in (61 cm x 30.48 cm)

In Race Week, 2011, Guess captures the essence of sailors who care only for the direction of the wind and the condition of the water. The tilt and tone of composition suggests an audible quality, providing the viewer with a nautical soundtrack of flapping billowy sails and hulls cleaving through frothy wakes.  Guess’s meditative Maritime 3, 2011 reminds us that on a sailboat, minimalism transcends efficiency. Gone are the schedules and concerns of daily modern life. The sapphire surface and the sacred stillness of the sloop indulge the viewer in a profound silence of the remotest regions, far from the boisterous glow of civilization.

This essay has been published twice; once in Longitude and Latitude: 18 15’N, 63 10’W, Heather Guess New Photography 2012 exhibition catalogue, and again in A Literary Jollification, Anguilla Lit Fest 2012.