Visual arts in St Vincent and the Grenadines are not something that is expressly promoted very much, although it’s not because there isn’t art. There are some self-taught artists who promote their work, but even at that, there are few.
The earliest forms of art include rock carvings (called petroglyphs) and pottery. Some of the sites of the rock art are included in tentative World Heritage lists by UNESCO. Many of the traditional arts and handicrafts (jewelry, shell art, goatskin drums, woodcarvings, and others) are on display at some of the islands cultural and historical museums, galleries, and markets. There are several festivals and celebrations held throughout the year that are also used as a means for artists to show off their works.
In their traditional arts, they typically used many of the materials around them as their medium: banana leaves, local woods, different kinds of shells including conch, eggshells, grasses, flowers, bamboo, palm leaves, etc. Many of these would end up making mats, shoes, hats, bags, toys, and images of island life.
|by Nzimbu Browne|
One of the most well-known artists from St Vincent and the Grenadines is Nzimbu Browne. He has made a name for himself as one of the few artists here who have created sustainable art. His specialty is mainly creating art out of banana leaves, a part of the plant that is generally thrown away. Browne learned some of the techniques from the artists who really started the idea of creating banana art: Ras Bandy Payne. Soil conditions, the weather, and other factors can affect the colors and texture of the leaves, and he takes all that into consideration when creating his works.
The vast majority of literature from St Vincent and the Grenadines is written in English. One problem smaller countries face is that it’s sometimes harder to get published. It could be due to a number of things, including literacy rates, lack of opportunities for printing, and not quite as much public support. I’m not saying all those factors apply here, but perhaps some do on some scale. However, there are a handful of authors who hail from the islands. One of the most notable is Dr. Edgar Adams. He’s a historian and has written many books on local history and other topics.
Other Vincentian authors include Shake Keane (poetry, music), Ralph Everard Gonsalves (prime minister who wrote about his experiences), Cecil Brown (short stories), and St Clair Jimmy Prince (poetry).
There is one magazine from St Vincent and the Grenadines called ARC. It’s devoted to the cultural arts of this island county. It stands for “Art. Recognition. Culture.” Getting its start in 2011, it was found by two visual artists, Nadia Huggins and Holly Bynce. And while it’s based in SVG, they really cover the arts scene across much of the Caribbean.
Up next: music and dance