AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Felisha Mohammed and I am an aspiring artist
I come from Warrenville, Central Trinidad, and I've lived pretty much all my life there. We have family all over Trinidad and I've spent a lot of my youth in Arima, where my grandmother is from.
But my favourite part of Trinidad is the beach. As a child, we’d go to the beach a lot. Toco mainly. Or along the north coast.
I loved hiking and camping too but haven’t got to Grande Riviere yet to see the turtles.
I come from a big family, three siblings, an older brother and two younger sisters.
We have a mixed Venezuelan, Indian and black background. Those three are, like, the main ones. My mother’s dominantly Venezuelan. I speak
un poco de español. Not very much, though.
I am in a relationship with James Leid. We’re very happy together.
We met online, like most people nowadays.
My family approve. Women would kill for his hair!
James is 18 already. He’s one year older than me.
We do not remember a Trinidad without crime.
I went to Warrenville Presbyterian Primary School and did not have a good time there.
But it was where I developed my interest in art and early skills.
I had a really good pre-school teacher, Ms Aklima, who is still alive. Surprisingly. Because I remember her looking really old when I was a child. She looks the same now. She's a yoga instructor, just a very peaceful woman who made a great impact on me.
I didn't have a good time at primary school because I didn't like the group of kids I was around. I feel like, for children, there was too much drama.
Primary school drama, yes. They were always bad-talking people, gossiping. I feel like that was the parent’s influence. Probably. Most likely.
I had a good time at Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College, but left after CXCs last year.
I am taking a gap year now. I'm not sure whether I will do A-levels.
I'm just trying to figure out how you become an artist. And enjoying my childhood a little bit more.
Yes, I am enjoying my childhood although I am pushing 18.
But I do feel like school took away a lot of that. It’s nice to have a break.
I went to a Presbyterian primary school, a Hindu secondary school, and grew up Muslim. So I am a real Trinidadian!
I believe in God. A lot of young people now are, like, atheists. Or call themselves more spiritual than religious.
But I think you need both religion and spirituality.
I wouldn't say I have been doing too well on practising religion. I think I'm deciding which faith I want to be in more because I've been introduced to the better part of all.
I listen happily to every kind of music except chutney music. I know I’ll get in trouble for saying so, but I can’t stand it.
My favourite band is Fleetwood Mac. Even if BC Pires calls it my grandparents’ music, I love Stevie Nicks. I know the band was first Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and that they wrote Black Magic Woman. I love that song.
My aunt introduced me to them.
I play regular classical acoustic guitar. I got it for Christmas when I was six.
I used to think I could play it until I actually started learning.
After two years of it, I would say about ten per cent of my life has been spent under lockdown.
But I was glad for it when it first started. It was a stressful time at school, the workload, and it felt like a miracle that I didn't have to go back.
Eventually I grew accustomed to lockdown.
I had CXC during covid and was really behind with the work with add math. I was so good at add math at physical school, but online, it was the most terrible thing.
Online, I was just kept back. My computer and phone mashed up and I had to do online class with a TV! It was crazy.
But, to be honest, I just studied the night before the exams and I did well! I got five ones. But add math, I got a three.
At standard four or five there is this this CAC thing, where we had to do, like, agriculture and stuff and there was an art part of it, where we had to do drawings.
I don’t know what CAC means but it was part of the SEA. It could be Caribbean-Something-Something, as BC Pires suggests. (CAC is the continuous assessment component of the Secondary Entrance Assessment.) Everyone had to do it but I was really enjoying it.
We had to do still life and my teacher was like, wow, how I got it so well.
And I was like, “Hmmm, I could do something here.”
My standard four teacher, Ms Deaukee Lochan, was really impressed with my art. She was helping me and paying a lot of attention to me and I think that helped.
But I get the satisfaction from the creation itself.
And now I’m very aware that art could become a career.
A lot of Trinidadian parents don't value art as a school subject.
But mine did. My parents have been very supportive, buying me paints and so on.
I describe myself as an aspiring artist and not an artist because I feel, right now, I'm still figuring out my style and stuff.
It has been difficult because I have been trying to create all sorts of things. And I feel I need a style to be recognised as an artist. Because you can recognise certain artists by the style of their work and I don't think you can do that with mine as yet. I want someone to see my piece and go, “That’s one of Felisha’s!”
I was always clear that I wanted art to be part of my life. I think I can have a career as an artist, in graphic design.
Right now, I do painting and I create portraits. Mainly. I do still life drawings and create hand-drawn watercolour cards for any occasion. I did Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays. In a graphic way, with calligraphy.
I am hoping to create a business out of that.
The best part about being an aspiring artist is I don’t like buying people stuff as gifts and, with art, you can create something special and unique for somebody and gift it. It’s nice to have that ability.
The bad part is having the drive to create. Because you don't always have it.
I think it’s a sign to take care of myself. Because we are all naturally creative and for that to be at its full capacity, you have to be at your own best.
But I try to force myself to create even when I'm not feeling at my best.
A Trini knows how to work hard and play hard.
Personally, I love Trinidad and Tobago because there’s always an “ole tanty down the road” waiting to give you food.
But I love it and dislike it at the same time. It is a beautiful place. But the people can be quite disappointing and backwards.
On the other hand, whether for wrong or right reasons, it honestly feels like there’s just one gigantic family crashing on the island.
Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at www.BCPires.com