Stacy Tyrell, "Hillside", from the series "Chattel", 2009, c-print, 11x11"

Stacy Tyrell, “Hillside”, from the series “Chattel”, 2009, c-print, 11×11″

Stacy Tyrell


chat•tel (chtl)
1. Law. an article of movable personal property.
2. a slave.

The story of the West Indies has always been transient and the island of Nevis where my family is from is no exception. Nearly every aspect of the island, its structures and people has at some point been chattels. Older chattel houses supported on rocks remain a legacy of plantation life when at any moment possessions and house would be packed up and moved to another part of the island. People were no exception. Waves of immigration in the 1950s and ’60s created an exodus of young people to England, Canada and the United States in search of an escape from poverty. These people were able to create new lives that soon replaced their old ones. Returning home became a ritual in which each visit would create a sense of displacement. Memories and attachments became moved and changed within the new landscape that they were confronted with. As time passed, many returned to find that a lot of their family and friends had either died or moved away.

I feel this way every time I return to Nevis. The romanticized images of my youth lay in stark contrast to the changes that are now taking place, causing me to create new relationships within the evolving landscape. Nevis is in the midst of transition. Everywhere there are examples of contemporary life coexisting with a way of life that is rapidly becoming extinct. The dirt roads and donkeys that I remember have now been replaced with pavement and feral farm animals that have long been neglected. Whenever I return I try to form some connection to what I am seeing and constantly am trying to figure out where exactly I belong within it.

Stacy Tyrell (NYC) was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design where she majored in Photography. In 2003 she was chosen as one of the top emerging Canadian photographers by Gallery 44 in Toronto. Tyrell‚Äôs work has been included in many exhibitions in Toronto at venues such as Wedge Gallery, Drabinsky Gallery, Light Source Photographic Collective, Gallery 44, and Wallace Studios. Her work has appeared in publications such as Prefix Magazine and is part of the Canadian Heritage Ministry’s permanent collection.