To see the best of St. Vincent and the Grenadines' Arts and Crafts, visit the National Exhibition, the Christmas or Carnival Arts and Crafts fairs and special events held at the Cruise Ship Berth. During showcases of the Island’s Cottage Industries and Artists’ Studios, discover an eclectic array of beauty, function and whimsy, from oil paintings and conch shell galleons to egg shell mosaics and coconut helicopters. Handcrafted clothing and shoes, steel pans, goatskin drums, books by, and about Vincentians, jewellers, carnival dolls and a variety of wood carvings can also be found.
The fibres and flowers of the island’s wood and grasslands are the raw materials for much traditional craft and modern art work. See how bamboo, banana fibre, palm leaves, grass and flower petals are crafted into hats, mats, slippers, toys, baskets and pictures of Island life.
At other times see a selection of work during short walks through Kingstown, upstairs at the new Kingstown Vegetable Market or at the Craft Outlet in Frenches. The National Trust building, (ask for “the Old Public Library”) upstairs the Alliance Francaise, is the venue for exhibitions for young artists; hosted by local and guest painters.
More paintings are now on show at the Bounty Restaurant & Art Gallery [Tel: (784) 456-1776] on Egmont Street and on the outskirts of Kingstown in Villa at the Ocean Allegro Restaurant (Tel: 784 457-4425).
On the leeward coast of the Island, enjoy meeting artisans at Fibreworks in the Buccament Valley at Penniston, founded by artist/designer Vonnie Roudette Here they utilise local materials and human resources to create unique hand-crafted items that are authentic reflections of the environment and its people.
Also on the leeward side look out for the Wallilabou Craft Centre, a co-operative of local villagers, where training is provided in various techniques of straw and weaving using fibres from pandanas and wiss plants. The workers here are involved in the weaving of baskets, handbags, hats and even children’s toys. Their motto tells it all: “In every piece of our craft lies a story of interaction with the environment through creativity and open hearts”.
Other communities too have their resident arts and crafts producers; take the time to be curious and ask who you can meet and perhaps be rewarded by a special visit to a workshop and a piece of unique Vincentian artwork to enjoy.