Wednesday, July 18, 2012


If there’s one word that can describe the cultural arts of The Bahamas, it would be vibrant. They put 110% into everything they do, adding life and color to the world around them.

When it comes to visual arts, there are several types of art you’ll find most common. Straw weaving goes back centuries to when they depended on the baskets and hats they made for day-to-day life. Baskets were necessary to carry fruits and fish and to store other dry goods. There is a particular method of weaving that makes them fairly sturdy. Across the islands, they all use the same methods of plaiting the straw, mostly from the silver palm. These methods have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, these straw goods are made mainly for tourists. I don't care -- this bag is cold!

The gorgeous landscape attracts many artists from all over the world, making it a haven for canvas painting. Some of the more famous painters to come from The Bahamas are Amos Ferguson, Eddie Minnis, Brent Malone, Jackson Burnside, John Beadle, and John Cox. Several of these artists also do sculpting and other mediums/styles.

I love this painting by Brent Malone. If you look close, you see both the conch shell and the person. 
Hand-carved stones and coral are also quite popular in The Bahamas. All of the pieces used are pieces of stone and coral that have broken apart from natural causes (erosion, etc.). These stones and coral are carved into sculptures, figurines, candle holders, jewelry, etc. Shell jewelry is also common, mostly from conch and some others.

Storytelling has been popular in The Bahamas and has its roots in African culture. It was especially popular before television became available in most households. Storytelling, like straw weaving, is passed down to the younger listeners. Many of the stories come from folklore. One common folklore figure is that of around Pretty Molly Bay. There are several stories that surround her, which range from a white woman who turns into a mermaid to a woman who haunts the beaches of Little Exuma Island. Other folklore stories involve “chickcharnies,” a tree-dwelling sprite, described as having three toes and red eyes. It’s said that they will hang upside down and reach down to turn your head backwards. I'm pretty sure I run into one every Monday. It's obviously the only explanation some days. 

There are a few notable Bahamian writers that have marked their way. One notable writer is Paul Albury. He is instrumental in writing about the history of the Bahamas. Dr. Gail Saunders is another historian from the Bahamas.  Susan J. Wallace writes about Bahamian folklore among other topics. Ian Strachan is a professor of English and has shown success as a novelist and playwright. Sidney Poitier not only is an exceptional actor but has also written several books.

Up next: music and dance

Wikipedia: “Culture of The Bahamas” "Sidney Poitier"

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