INTERVIEW – Hurricane Strap Inventor Augustine St.Jean

Where low pressure forms around warm ocean currents in the Caribbean and South Atlantic, tropical waves can soon become full-blown hurricanes. 58-year-old construction worker Augustine St.Jean was born in Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean and has used his technical skills to invent a strap that helps keep galvanized steel and iron roofing secured to homes during hurricanes and reduce storm damage. We interview him about the inspiration behind his invention.

What inspired you to create the Hurricane Tie Strap?

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica where I was born, I visited my homeland and saw the hurricane damage first-hand. I wanted to help find a solution and since I have 30 years experience in construction, I created the Hurricane Tie Strap to help secure the most vulnerable part of the galvanized rooftops commonly used in Caribbean house construction.

Galvanized roofing in the Caribbean

How do you feel it will protect homes during the hurricane and why hasn’t anything similar been invented before?

With my invention I stress the importance of identifying and securing the most vulnerable area of the roofing – the section most prone to storm and hurricane damage. I was amongst the first to discuss and offer solutions to this problem. Also, I was one of the few to practically apply technical and construction experience to tackle a problem that is affecting millions across the Caribbean and South Atlantic.

Do you feel that your Caribbean background and construction experience in the USA has given you a better grasp than most of what is required to solve the problem?

Well, I was born in Dominica which has experienced hurricane and storm damage in my lifetime and, yes, I was a construction worker in the USA for over 30 years. Over the decades, my knowledge of construction while working in the US has expanded considerably and I am looking to apply my seasoned skills to help overcome the challenges my homeland faces during hurricane periods.

Has your work in construction been of benefit in designing your concept and getting specific technical elements correct?

I believe my 30-year construction experience has been invaluable. It has opened my mind as regards the technical requirements in housing and building issues I often face. This has been applied in the conceptual elements of my invention. I cannot go into the specifics, because the design is a secret at this stage but you can see how and where this knowledge has been of benefit.

Have you received any positive feedback about your invention at this stage?

Yes, I have had discussions with a number of specialist engineers who have praised the concept. It has been well-received by prominent members of the industry who know what they are talking about and can offer advice going forward.

Othello De Souza-Hartley: Cataloguing Emotions

Artist Othello De’ Souza-Hartley

This solo show by Othello De Souza-Hartley is notable amongst the Covid 19 era London exhibitions because of the body and architecture connection, poignant at a time when there is heightened focus on the relationship between the self and the confining surrounds of our homes. However, De Souza’s work utilises concepts he had developed well before the coronavirus pandemic.

He brings together the photography from his I Am and Masculinity series as well as the paintings from his Studies portfolio. He describes the exhibition as a discourse on the sexualisation of the male body and the architecture it resides in and that’s around it and also representations of female black beauty. There’s a candid excoriation of elements of memory in all the work.

Othello De’ Souza-Hartley (centre)

The naked black figures in the photographic work are occasionally foetal; lying on spotlit, cold, industrial or factory floors. They impart that focus on memory in a dyadic language; almost womblike yet at the same time isolated and detached, in a powerful examination of representations of the black body and beauty.

I AM (2017)

Othello said: ” My paintings are a visual diary of emotions while my photographic work is heavily inspired by architecture and interiors.”

Within that photography is some stark and powerful light play that brings to mind the baroque methodology of masters such as Carravagio.

This exhibition marks the first time all the work from his main creative practice have been brought together in one gallery space.

CATALOGUING EMOTIONS: An Exploration of Body, Architecture and Memory

Koppel Project Exchange, 193 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EU, UK.

9th – 20th October 2020


EXHIBITION – Denise Wyllie, National Original Print Exhibition

DENISE WYLLIE Attends National Original Print Exhibition

Artist Denise Wyllie with ‘Cuthbert All Souls’ screenprint

Denise Wyllie’s ‘Cuthbert All Souls’ screenprint was amongst the selected works exhibited at the National Original Print Exhibition 18-29 September 2019, which is now in its 6th year. A judging panel from the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers selected 227 prints from the thousands of submissions and sought a mix of emerging talent and established professionals.

She attended the September 17th private view at the Bankside Gallery in the company of the model for her work, Cuthbert Assan.

Denise Wyllie and Cuthbert Assan

Denise comments: “This screenprint is fairly monchrome. The colour of the paper is quite creamy. I wanted him to jump out of the picture so I used a shocking white on his face and bold, dark lines and strong brush marks which are influenced by Japanese art. The whiteness of his face is reminiscent of Geisha make up.”

Denise Wyllie with David Ferry, President of the Royal Society 0f Painter-Printmakers

National Original Print Exhibition Bankside Gallery, Thames Riverside, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH. Open 11am – 6pm. Free entry.