Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cuban Crafts

We didn't get a chance to see the Cuban craftspeople at the Tourist Pier, but Ben Harrison did this story for The Vincentian. We agree with the editorial content, There are competent craftspeople in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and it would be a good thing if they were given better marketing facilities, particularly around the Tour Ship Dock.
Here's the text from Ben's story: sorry the pictures didn't scan well enough.

Tourists and Visitors:- Opportunities for local artisans
Author: Ben Harrison - International Correspondent Published: 02/17/2011

Tourists visiting a new country leave with memories; memories fused by what they have seen and experienced. Visitors to St. Vincent & the Grenadines return to their homes with digital photos of our beautiful shorelines, interesting architecture, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Montreal Gardens and the warm friendly greetings and smiles of our people.

Only the unadventurous and unimaginative travellers are impressed with transplanted North American fast food mentality signs, advertising McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. Those who need reminders of a lifestyle they left behind for a few short annual vacation days or weeks perhaps should have stayed home.

We can produce

In addition to the ever present flora, fauna and natural beauty, visitors to our island also look for local crafts that they can take home and display to family and friends. Handcrafts are an expression of a people. Many are handed down through generations and depict an earlier simplicity of life; a snapshot of the way life was.

Unfortunately in St. Vincent & the Grenadines there is a dearth of original, indigenous crafts, created by skilled local Vincentian craft makers and artisans. Crafts that are made from natural products found right here on our island at no cost to the craftsperson. We do have a few street vendors of limited crafts and paintings, and we have a poorly advertised crafts centre that may or may not be open when visitors call. With a new airport and larger resorts and hotels about to become a reality, we should become serious about developing a home-grown craft industry, complete with a training and exhibition centre and marketing support.

Cometh the Cuban

THE VINCENTIAN visited and was impressed by three Cuban artisans (two of whom were mother and daughter), who visited St. Vincent this past week, displaying Cuban crafts that are readily available to visitors to that island republic. They displayed and offered for sale examples of their work in three booths at the Kingstown Cruise Terminal. Their quality of work was excellent and the prices were very reasonable.

On display were hundreds of collectible items made from readily available natural products in Cuba, including a variety of woods, bones, pieces of leather and horns from cows; shells, seeds and flowers. From these materials they created imaginative, creative colourful costume jewellery, wood, bone and horn carvings and sculptures as well as contemporary artwork.

It has been said that those who work with their hands are labourers; those who work with their hands and head are craftsmen and those who work with their hands, heads and hearts are artisans. It’s time for the craftsmen and artisans to realize that they are major contributors to the success of our tourism industry; to make themselves and their works readily available to tourists and visitors to our shores.

Our Ministry of Tourism should take note: An active, successful craft industry will not happen by itself. It will require your support to become an established sector, and your marketing assistance to make it self sustaining.

Text available on:
Pictures are in the Vincentian of 2/18/2011

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