If you thought Barbados holidays were all about sun, sea and sand – think again. The world-famous gem of the Caribbean is home to an impressive selection of fantastic galleries and artistic events. Be a culture vulture on your next trip to this beautiful Bajan island where you can take a life drawing class and create your own masterpiece. After touring the island’s exhibitions, you may return home with a stunning original painting in your suitcase – it could be worth a fortune one day! Here is our selection of the best events in Barbados over the next few months, enjoy!
Roots & Wings, Bridgetown
After a morning of sunbathing and relaxing at the beach, head to Steel Shed, Queens Park in Bridgetown where the world-famous arts collective Urbanflo are putting on an exciting exhibition titled “Roots & Wings”. This must-see show is a fusion of Caribbean and UK artists, displaying international photography that celebrates the presence of Caribbean athletes in the Crawley Olympic training camps in Britain. Urbanflo is a UK-based collective of arts professionals specialising in socially engaging activities, they offer advice and support to individuals, groups and organisations who seek to produce artistic events and shows.
Among the featured artists are Akley Olton, O’Neil Lawrence, Gerard H Gaskin, Gary Stewart, Genevieve Browne and Mariamma Kambon. One artist in particular has caught our eye: Bajan photographer Adrian Richards. In a recent interview with Kenwood Travel, Adrian told us why Barbados is such an inspirational place to live and work: “Everyday I wake up and marvel at the paradise that I call home. I love the sea and I am an island boy at heart. So many times I pick up one of my cameras and take a leisurely stroll of discovery along one of the eastern beaches.”
Enthusiastic about the Barbadian arts scene, Adrian is proud that young Bajans are now contemplating art as a valid career option. He praises the work of local talent including Sheena Rose, Kraig Yearwood and Alicia Alleyne.
When asked what he loves the most about Barbados, this successful photographer told us it he was a humble soul at heart: “There are so many things I love about my island but an early morning walk on any of the beaches with my Weimaraner dogs and camera is hard to beat.”
For more information on Roots & Wings visit www.urbanflo.com or Adrian’s personal website http://imagepro.photography.com/adrianrichards
Gallery of Caribbean Art, Speightstown
Your second day of the Barbados arts tour takes you to The Gallery of Caribbean Art, a private institution on the west coast of the island north of Holetown. The gallery prides itself on promoting not only artists from Barbados, but from the whole of the Caribbean. A self-funded organisation, the Gallery of Caribbean Art has done well during its eleven years in operation; it has represented over 50 Bajan artists in its monthly exhibitions.
Hazel-Ann Mahy-Batson is proud of the gallery’s achievements and optimistic about the art scene in Barbados: “Generally I think we are heading in the direction to be recognized internationally, our artists are very talented. Visitors love our art.” This April you can see a stunning exhibition at the gallery by Don Small entitled “Women” that depicts Bajan belles in society. Opening on April 21st and concluding on May 10th, this is an exciting opportunity to see the vibrant works of a renowned Bajan artist.
This pioneering arts centre, run by husband and wife team Billy and Elayne Hosford, is as lively on the outside as it is on the inside! An ideal destination for the whole family, ArtSplash is a bright pink building situated opposite the boardwalk and Hastings Rocks. ArtSplash is essentially a children’s art school that aims to inspire children and young adults to take an interest in arts and crafts, enabling them to work with all sorts of materials, whether it’s paint, clay, charcoal or papier mache.
For the adults, the centre hosts regular art classes. This April why not join one of the centre’s master classes with renowned artist Leandro Soto? Visitors can join any one of the Wednesday life drawing sessions with Leandro, where he will guide students to depict the human form in an eclectic and engaging method. Beginners will also have the opportunity to join an introductory course with artist Tara La Motta where they will develop their drawing and painting skills “with an emphasis on concept, narrative and self awareness”.
In addition to its classes, ArtSplash hosts birthday parties, seasonal summer camps and has an on-site gallery showcasing local artists’ work. When they aren’t painting, drawing or making a master piece, visitors to the centre can chill out at the juice bar, where a range of tropical island smoothies are on offer.
On the Wall Art Gallery, Christ Church
Thursday’s art venue is Bajan chic at its best. Vanita Gopwani Comissiong is an artist turned curator who has been painting since the early 1990s and is the brains behind the spectacular On the Wall Gallery. Art has been a life-long passion for Vanita; she bought her first originals about 30 years ago, a series of colourful Haitian paintings that have special value: “they were purchased instead of furniture…they were the best investment I would ever make as they totally inspired me to paint”.
A budding entrepreneur, Vanita has launched a stunning range of “Very Vanita” products alongside managing two showrooms and galleries, where you will find her work alongside paintings by other Bajan artists and craftsmen, including Paola Baldi and Jean Blades. Local artist Heather-Dawn Scott also exhibits her charming paintings at the gallery and is proud of the island’s creative talent: “a lot of very strong, worthwhile work is produced on the island. Some of our best artists do live abroad in search of a larger appreciative public but they come home to reload.”
Vanita shares these sentiments and has enjoyed watching the Bajan creative movement grow: “the art scene here in Barbados has expanded in the last 10 years with galleries sprouting up all over”. As many of the artists we spoke to told us, Barbados is a stunning place to live and work and Vanita takes inspiration from her surroundings: “my paintings tend to show people close together, especially in parties and at bus stops and markets…wherever you go the clothing is bright, the sun shimmers and the people are interacting”.
Visit the 2 locations of On The Wall Gallery at Earthworks in St. Thomas and at Champers Restaurant on Accra Beach, Christ Church.
Barbados Photographic Society, Bridgetown
Photographic Exhibition “Life Now” April 7th to 29th
Spend Friday afternoon visiting the stunning exhibition “Life Now” at the Queen’s Park Gallery. The show has been curated by Janice Whittle and explores the artists’ own vision of the world through current affairs linked to Barbados. It’s aims to open a dialogue, to generate a response and to inspire photographers on the island to pick up their cameras.
The Barbados Photographic Society (BPS) is an excellent platform for amateur photographers. BPS’s didactic work is also aimed at the younger generations and the society is engaged with teaching photography to primary and secondary schools throughout Barbados.
From workshops and course, to field trips and regular exhibitions, the BPS offers photography enthusiasts an exciting arena in which to develop skills and refine their techniques. Their activities include photographic trips to places of interest on the island, lectures on camera techniques and post production processing, as well as participation in the annual Scott Kelby global Photowalk.
Activities at the BPS take place a month and are open to all abilities and skill levels, as BPS director Victor Gittens told us: “As a premier tourism destination we welcome the participation of visitors in the enjoyment our photography, music, food, art and culture”.
Rafza Rahaman Nehaul, St. Michael
Saturday’s arts event is a private tour of an artist’s studio. Yes, wander over to Brighton Beach, just off the Spring Garden Highway, and you can find yourself in the creative space of acclaimed artist Rafza Rahaman Nehaul. This Barbadian is a woman of many talents; originally a Maths and Biology teacher, later a furniture designer, Rafza’s current works of “structural art” are beautiful 2D masterpieces made using a range of recycled materials (including a cricket bat) that have been featured in magazines such as Caribbean BELLE.
Rafza has opened the doors to her studio to host walk-in sessions with curious visitors and loves the interactive sessions: “I receive visitors on a weekly basis…and I love the interaction, I taught both In London and Oxford so I am use to a “captive audience””. Taking inspiration from Barbados’s stunning landscape, Rafza explains why she loves island living: “Barbados allows me peace and calm. I walk along the beach, I swim, I work with my family around me…I can’t imagine anything better than living on a fabulous beach with a garden full of tropical life. I say thank you every day”.
Rafza’s studio is Gallery no 6, located on Brighton Beach, St Michael. For more information contact the artist directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommendations from Barbados Arts Council
There are so many fantastic arts events happening in Barbados each month, you’ve read our pick of the best galleries and events but there are many more to choose from. Corrie Scott is a talented artist and photographer who produces an extensive monthly guide to the island’s artistic events and works closely with Barbados Arts Council. Scott tells us that the art scene in Barbados is exploding: “We have so much happening, from art to photography, film to poetry, there’s so much going on every month here”. Corrie’s favourite upcoming art events are:
1) “Three Generations Art Show” at the Gallery of Caribbean Art
2) “Light” at the Bridgetown Gallery at Sheraton
3) ‘Explorations III’ at ArtSplash
The Barbados Arts Council has been in existence for 54 years after a group of artists saw the need for an umbrella organisation to promote the island’s creative talent. Though the Barbadian government provides a small amount of funding to the BAC, it is not enough to cover the rent of gallery space. The support from tourists is vital to ensure the art scene continues to flourish, as Corrie explained: “Most of us have to create our own resources. The government has arts related groups such as the National Cultural Foundation but they concentrate mostly on music…tourism is our main revenue in Barbados and its a vital resource for the artists and galleries”.
For a complete guide to Barbados’ monthly events,visit Corrie Scott’s Art Directory online.