Friday, October 22, 2010

Rambutan Fruit, Dominica

One day I will have my own back yard garden but for now I'm always grateful to receive the gifts of fruit and produce from friends and family.
My Uncle grows rambutan in his back garden, here in Dominica. It's delicious!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coconut Art & Craft Exhibition, held at the Old Mill Cultural Centre in Dominica

Growing up in Dominica, coconut and a variety of coconut products were part of everyday life. Not only refreshing coconut water and the succulent flesh on Sunday outings to the village of Castle Bruce and an assortment of tasty sweets like coconut tablet and cheese on the way home from school, but also items from all the other parts of the coconut tree; like sweeping with cocoyea brooms, making kites with cocoyea sticks, playing cricket with bats made from the branch of the tree and a young coconut (well several actually) for the ball, hats, cigarettes in coconut shell ashtrays, bangles, earrings and the inevitable, uniquely Caribbean cocoyea stick "licks" for misbehaviour - ouch!!!. I won't even go into the various recipes using coconut, milk, cream, oil etc.
These memories were once again rekindled by the Coconut Art & Craft Exhibition, held at the Old Mill Cultural Centre; an inspired addition to the Independence Celebrations by the Division of Culture. Many of the craft items displayed were made by artisans belonging to the Dominica Arts & Crafts Producers Association (DACPA) - listed below.
It's the first time I have seen an exhibition solely focusing on coconut and it would be great if it expanded into a larger annual "Coconut Fest" event, featuring a wider variety of coconut food dishes and beverages, maybe even a series of workshops and guest coconut craft designers and artisans from other Caribbean islands. Maybe a coconut producing village could host it.
Although a very good exhibition, especially the large selection of beautiful coconut jewellery, and a showcase of some of our gifted artisans, I would have liked to have seen a wider variety of new, innovatively designed coconut craft products; especially products using the stem which I hardly ever see.
I do hope that skilled craftspeople and local craft do not become terminal casualties of the modern age, replaced by machines spewing out cheaper, quicker to produce, souless, mass produced items; but I worryingly often hear artisans lament that it's getting increasingly harder for them to make a living from their craft and the number of people willing and able to pay a fair price for what they produce is diminishing each year. They need all the support they can get so check out the exhibition if you can. It closes on Friday October 22.

Click to view pictures from the exhibition
Click to view slideshow from the exhibition

There is so much which can be done with this amazingly versatile material. A search on the internet can open up a wealth of inspiration to artisans who work with any part of the coconut tree and nut.
These are a few I noticed.

Some of the DACPA Coconut Craft Exhibitors
Agatha Carbon, Anita Watty, Cecelia George, Henrietta Seraphine, Julien James, Lincoln St. Rose, Vanessa Winston

Update 31/10/2010
I saw these bags at Creole in the park which was just what I was talking about.
Handbag photo 1
Handbag photo 2