Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s talent is rendered in gorgeous images and succulent words that capture both your heart and your head; the beautiful colours, flowing lines and inherent wildness of her artwork draw you in, while her poetry captures your soul from the moment you hear or read it; a searing honesty steeped in the divine feminine.
Her inspiration comes from a very personal place; growing up in rural Trinidad – “it’s a huge part of who I am” – between her grandmothers (a blend of East Indian, Chinese, Carib & African descent), she learnt the meaning of feminine strength and where true power lies. Her creations make sense of her multi-cultural background and the many stories and narratives from her childhood shared by these “amazing women” in a beautiful and magical way; recurring elements throughout her work include her own map of symbols that come to her unconsciously. “I usually don’t know what they represent or mean until after [the] pieces are created.”
The story of Persephone and the cycle of relationships is a consistent theme – “it’s a tale of a mother and daughter, sadness & loss, oneness and yet separateness, the complexity and difficulty of relationships between the two. It comes back to the same place of memories.” The branches or antlers denote sensitivity and understanding: “it’s important not to let go of your innate wildness, a freeness, a connection to your own needs & impulses.” The cursive, flowing shapes have a seamless fluidity, connecting directly with the landscape and surroundings like roots.
Danielle sees her life unravelling as a journey of evolution through discovery. “Poetry came first. I started seriously in 2008. The art came 3 or 4 years later. Both happen on different frequencies, although I find painting easier.” More recently, her paintings have featured snippets of her poetry, strings of words flowing around her subjects that create a new dimension to appreciate. It’s the authenticity of her work that really enthralls; an homage to mother nature, a celebration of the wildness that resides deep inside.
A published author, her poetry has been featured in several print publications and she has appeared at many of the literary festivals in the region, making new connections along the way. “Each one is very different, and has their own vibe.” A recent trip to the Bim Lit Fest in Barbados saw her participate in a workshop for 8-12 year olds, which she found particularly rewarding; she strongly believes in passing on her knowledge and experience to a younger generation, encouraging them to express themselves in a creative space.
While the business of art via brick and mortar retail stores can be challenging, she has built an online presence that not only allows her to connect with other artists and designers outside of Trinidad – it has become the primary way she makes a living, selling a small range of products including limited edition original art, prints, bookmarks and a colouring book. Together with her husband, a graphic artist, also run their own business – an art studio supplies store in Trinidad. Currently in a transition period, her focus has turned to improving her body of work and creating larger pieces, a timely decision as in our view her style begs to be rendered on an oversized canvas.
Particular about her use of media, Danielle prefers to create certain shapes on wood, for instance, as she feels the longer, straighter lines and deeper colours work better, whereas the curves and fluidity of watercolour are best on paper. She’s also not a fan of traditional exhibitions, and would rather show her pieces in a relaxed environment, surrounded by nature. “Art galleries can be too sterile. It’s hard to connect with the pieces on a white wall.”
While confident in her artistry, Danielle acknowledges that it’s been hard to let go of feeling as though she has to constantly validate what she does. “I am mapping my own journey. It’s actually a simple change but so hard to implement because of the academic focus at school and how the school system beats [the creativity] out of you. I’m figuring it out as I go along.”