Artists in the Caribbean are blessed with an environment ripe for inspiration and in Turks & Caicos the sparkling turquoise waters along with the colorful characters of the local population provide even more drama and stimulation for sketches, paintings, drawings and craftwork.
Oil and watercolors are the two most widely used techniques of the local artist. With the colorful influence and broad styles of neighboring Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a new style of Turks & Caicos art is emerging to further define the scenes, themes and subject matter for young and upcoming artists as they capture the culture on canvas.
Phillip Outten, Jean Taylor, Ianthe George, Joan Astwood, are just a few prominent local artists whose works standout and find their way on to the walls of many homes and businesses on the Islands and abroad. The art galleries on Providenciales and Grand Turk offer a wide range of local, Caribbean and international pieces for sale, and individuals are welcomed to visit.
The art of basket weaving, plaiting palm leaves for straw hats, net making, binding mosquito brushes, and weaving fanner dishes and bowls is very much alive in the Turks and Caicos Islands. While the majority of these craftsmen and women are found in the three settlements on Middle Caicos: Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers, there are also some of these talented artists on the neighboring island of North Caicos.
Farming and fishing was the way of life for the people in the Caicos Islands and the need for these items necessitated this type of work. Nets were needed for catching fish and turtles. Baskets and bags were required to collect and transport the catch and the crops. Hats were used to provide shade during the long hours in the hot sun. Fanner dishes were ideal to separate the chafe from the corn when making grits. Mosquito brushes were useful in keeping the bugs away in the fields. Broom and brushes made from silver palmtop leaves were used to keep the house and yard clean.
Many of the craftspeople donate their time and skills for teaching and training the young people of the settlements, all with the intention of keeping the technique of making these crafts alive. These skills are a very important part of our culture and need to be preserved and passed on for future generations.
On your next visit to the beautiful island of Middle Caicos, we invite you to take some time and check out the Middle Caicos Co-op, in Conch Bar http://middleca.hoster908.com/local-artisans/. You can also visit the National Trust office in Providenciales http://tcnationaltrust.org/, the shop at the National Museum in Grand Turk http://tcmuseum.org/shop/ or Salt Cay Salt Works on the island of Salt Cay http://www.saltcaysaltworks.com/index.html; all of these places offer a wide range of local straw work and/or other indigenous crafts and locally made products which are available for sale.