She is a mother of two sons, one of whom – Sydney Syd Michael-Weekes – is a poet and a rapper.
Cher Antoinette Corbin is also a forensic scientist, writer and an artist, who recently opened her own home studio, bearing her full name.
She spoke to Bajan Vibes’ Lashawna Griffith about how she is able to juggle her many roles.
Q: First of all, who is Cher?
A: I am a woman, mother, scientist, writer and artist. I am multifaceted and refuse to be labelled or placed in any societal box. I am a true Piscean. I love to love and be in love. I do not hate and I do not burn bridges, although I would just push you over the side. Why waste a good bridge?
Q: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
A: Weird, loving and free.
Q: What does science mean to you?
A: Science is my life. Art is my passion.
Q: How do you balance your profession as a forensic scientist and your passion for the arts?
A: I have been in the forensic science field for over 30 years. Being the first national forensic scientist, I have assisted in developing the profession here, which has culminated in our centre, a purpose-built facility that was established in 2003.
Having given much time to these undertakings and now reaching closer to my retirement age, I decided I was going to explore areas of life that I did not have time for previously. I made a firm decision about five years ago to leave work at work and spend my own hours with my art. Right now, I guess the balance comes because I reside with my two grown sons, and dog and I have responsibility to no one else (winks), so my time is mine and I use it to the fullest. Also, I don’t sleep much.
Q: At what age did you actually start painting and writing poetry?
A: I started writing in 2011. I was 49 at the time and I started painting in 2014. I have had no academic training in either discipline.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations as an artist?
A: I would say Van Gogh and my grandfather.
Q: Can you name some of your favourite pieces (in both poetry and art)?
A: With respect to my work, my favourite poem is Changing Hues and Dark Angel and Endangered, this is my art. Of others, I love Maya Angelou’s poetry and that of Rumi and I particularly like Van Gogh and local artists Sian Pampellione and Lorna Wilson.
Q: What motivates you to write poetry?
A: Poetry is one way of being heard. My poetry is emotionally driven. I create images with my words and sometimes when I write it feels like an out of body experience. I must admit I have not written actively for about two years because my imagery and my poetry have translated to my visual art. But I have promised myself that I will pick back up the pen [or keyboard] before yearend.
Q: Why erotic poetry?
A: Erotica is a language for me. A language that takes you away to that place where there is a freedom of expression that society does not wish to readily accept. My form of writing does not use profanity. I play with words, innuendo, double entendre, alliterations; these are the tools I use as well as creating those images that precipitate a physical response in the reader. I enjoy this genre and plan to extend it to more than just my poetry.
Q: Tell us about the books you have published thus far?
A: I have written four books, self-published that can almost be said to be autobiographical in some sense, as all my writing is emotionally driven and based most often in either my experiences or my desires. They are My Soul Cries, a poetry anthology; Virtualis – A New Age Love Story; Virtualis – The Anthology and Architects of Destiny, an anthology of poetry and prose that contains some of my national award winning work.
Q: How do you find time to manage all of what you do?
A: I don’t sleep much, which I know is not the thing to do. But my mind is always racing and I use every waking moment to start my projects. I have only started in this journey very recently and I am a self-taught artist. I never had the desire to draw or paint at an early age, but having learnt how to hone my observational skills in science has helped me tremendously to feel comfortable. I approach art quite differently I think to most academically trained artists.
Q: Black History Month is drawing to a close, what did it mean for you?
A: Black History Month is a reminder for all of us to not only cherish our heritage, but also to never forget the injustices that people of colour have endured and that should encourage us to push forward in some positive way as human beings for equality and general care for our fellow man and woman, not only in a social or cultural context, but in the simplest of humane actions and deeds.
Q: What advice would give young women interested in the arts?
A: I would first off tell them that they and only they should decide what they consider as art and push to create that. Yes, there will always be the classical works and historically we have much to learn from those who came before us. Understanding your media of choice and your tools, the techniques that can be supported by them are critical to producing a successful piece. Learn the rules, so you can confidently break them and create what is uniquely yours.