Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Boots" Walks On

Petrus Compton (rt) hands a farewell token to Kennedy 'Boots' Samuel
Press Release from the CDF - where I now work - our Executive Director ends his time with the organization as of the 31st December 2013 - wish him well and success in all his future endevours

"Very few call him Kennedy, his given name, preferring the familiar and folksy “Boots”. But whatever the name by which he was called, everyone recognized him as the face of the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) and a champion of arts and culture in Saint Lucia and the OECS.

On Friday20th December 2013, Chairman of CDF Petrus Compton announced to CDF’s management and staff that the organization’s most easily recognizable face was moving on. Describing the moment as “painful”, the Chairman acknowledged that Boots had navigated the organization through difficult times, in the face of many challenges and thanked him on behalf of the CDF, artistes and culture practitioners and the Saint Lucian community in general.

“Boots” came to CDF from his former position as Executive Director of the Folk Research Center (FRC) with a strong background in traditional culture research and theatre. He was a well known figure in the theatre renaissance of the 1980s that briefly threatened to recall the glory days of the sixties, when Saint Lucia held forth as a vibrant hub for theatre and the performing arts in general.

Notwithstanding the difficult conditions under which performing artists were expected to practice their craft in those days, “Boots” was a significant force, along with persons like Kendel Hippolyte, George “Fish” Alphonse, Hayden Forde, deceased Lucia Peters and a few others, who strove to ensure that Saint Lucian theatre remained alive.

Throughout his tenure with the CDF “Boots” brought his trademark passion and tenacity to everything that he did, constantly and vocally challenging what he saw as a tendency to impose upon us a notion of “modernity” that rejected things “lucian” as valueless. He was a fighter for authenticity and relentlessly sought to ensure that a Saint Lucian flavor was at the heart of national events and celebrations.

Chairman Petrus Compton challenged “Boots” to look upon his departure from the CDF as an opportunity to re-focus and to set sights upon new and more compelling vistas, and he assured the gathering that the CDF would continue to make use of the talents and experience that “Boots” had accumulated over the years, in its programming.

'Boots' says a few words of farewell to the Board and Staff of CDF
“Boots” in turn, expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity he had to serve the arts and culture from within the CDF and thanked the staff and the Board for its support to him throughout his tenure. He expressed deep confidence in and support for the new direction that the organization had taken and exhorted management and staff to continue to work diligently along with the Board to realize the important mandate which the CDF was charged with pursuing.

The CDF is expected to intensify its search for a suitable candidate to fill the shoes left vacant as “Boots” walks on."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saint Lucia Sunsets Calendar 2014

Sooooo....nearly there!!! I have designed the calendar - it's a desk calendar - 5"x9" so it can fit easily on your work desk - there are 12 lovely sunset photos with elegant section for dates ... AND a bonus cover photo - and here's where I need your help - which one of these do you like most?

Here's a peek at a calendar page too - I am thinking about also selling it as a digital file you can have printed at your local Xerox place....or through somewhere like Zazzle - will update here very soon!!!

Please drop me a comment if you think you'd be interested in buying this - THANK YOU!

Friday, November 22, 2013

CDF Rebranded - More Than Just a New Image

What have I been up to the past few months? Well, I joined the staff of our National cultural organization the Cultural Development Foundation as the Director of Business Development and Marketing - it's been a busy, busy time as the organization grapples with a complete restructure and rebranding while keeping up with ongoing work and designing new programmes and projects...so far it is great! I may look a bit tired now n then, but it's that 'good tired' when you know you've been doing some good work! So, here's our first press release about our changes:

The Cultural Development Foundation exists in a competitive world and competes daily- for people’s time and attention, for funding, sponsorship and recognition: the new brand and new structure have been designed to re-align the work of CDF with the contemporary needs of Saint Lucia’s emerging arts and culture sector in a world where the Creative Industries are becoming major contributors to economies and societies.

Our public value proposition – the value that we create, that in effect justifies public and private investment and support for what we do – has to be relevant and cutting edge: taking into account our rich past while openly and actively embracing the future.

That value has many different facets – there is the historical social value that CDF creates by caring for the Nation’s most significant traditions, keeping them full of life for future generations; the value created as an institution – represented by the extent to which we are trusted and accountable; the value we create in providing the means for our clients, the arts and culture practitioners, to be self-sustaining, profitable enterprises and pioneering, ground-breaking artists garnering world renown for not just themselves, but Saint Lucia; The value CDF creates  for the consumers – developing a rich quality of life for Saint Lucians full of our expressions of self, building Nationhood, building international recognition, fuelling the love of Saint Lucia by locals and visitors alike.

The road to the re-branding and re-structuring of the Cultural Development Foundation began with a  ‘public value’ exercise that engaged our customers in the development of a new strategy that would refine, redefine and better articulate our core values, our core purpose, the core need. The result has been a new identity, new management structure and redirection of focus for the work of the organization. This new visual image, management structure and direction were unveiled at the National Cultural Centre on Wednesday 13th November 2013.

 “A key consideration for CDF in the design of its new visual image was to identify and communicate more effectively CDF’s distinctive business model,” says Kennedy Samuel, Executive Director of the Cultural Development Foundation.

In addition to managing the visual image change and creating an identity, CDF worked with its stakeholders and Darwin Guard of BOLD Ink to produce a tagline to better state the benefit of the company’s unique structure and proposition:  ‘Creativity, Culture, Community’ now accompanies the institution’s name.

“The Saint Lucian personality is the sum of six inescapable aspects. A sense of community emerging out of different and distinctly unique cultural communities; Exuberant festivals and celebrations given potency by our inbred creativity; a thriving culture flavoured by a multiplicity of influences.” said Guard.

Importantly – indeed, fundamentally for this project the considerations were a lot less about the design, and more about the public value offer, especially in challenging economic times; 

“The company-wide realignment “… aims to focus, improve and expand our current operations and to carve out a distinctive niche for ourselves within this new landscape.” said Petrus Compton, Chairman of the CDF. “We also believe this move will increase efficiency, accommodate our planned program growth, and facilitate new development activity.”

Now that the CDF has completed the public launch, the work of implementing the changes has just begun: The brand work has given us a stronger core organisational sense of purpose, the reorganization has brought in a wealth of new skills and a structure designed with efficiency and efficacy in mind.  The new structure incorporates departments: Events and Production; Business Development and Marketing; Training, Promotion and Development; Operations; and a Finance Department.

In the coming months, the organization will be actively reaching out and inviting all stakeholders to re-engage with the Cultural Development Foundation and help build a new era for the Arts and Culture in Saint Lucia

Contact the CDF at info@cdfstlucia.org ; Tel 452 1859 ;  visit our website at www.cdfstlucia.org ; join us on facebook at www.facebook.com/Cultural.Development.Foundation and www.facebook.com/artreachsaintlucia

The New Team

Friday, August 30, 2013

Interview with Da Vibe Fashion segment

I did this interview back in our Independence Celebrations month - February 2013 - take a look - my part starts at 17.21 for about 9 mins

Saturday, June 1, 2013

 In an article published in our local paper "The Star' who have the motto "Bringing the Truth To Light" it was claimed that the SLTB cleared the air on the Hot Couture issue - as a professional designer in touch with many others of the designers and some of the models involved, I can categorically confirm that the "air" remains so thick with smoke it is almost unbreatheable.

Here is part if the article - I stopped the clip at the end of the paragraph that really began to upset me - I am one of those in the conversation on FB, therefore, the writer has called me a 'Facebook loser' - to which I take an offence 

Please take a read, so you can get an idea of the level of disregard and disrespect persons (not just designers and creatives, but very much so, our professions) are given in St. Lucia when they dare to claim things were not done as they should be.

From left: Public Relations Manager of the St Lucia Tourist Board John Emmanuel, Deputy Tourism director Tracey Warner Arnold and SLTB Director Louis Lewis.From left: Public Relations Manager of the St Lucia Tourist Board John Emmanuel, Deputy Tourism director Tracey Warner Arnold and SLTB Director Louis Lewis.
In a way, some who seemed hell-bent on icing “Hot Couture” merely ended up making it the main focus of the local tourist board’s rebranded Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, more talked about online and on the ground than even R. Kelly’s out-of-this-world performance. More proof that there’s no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to showbiz.
The inescapable irony is that there is no disagreement when it comes to the quality of the production, the first of its kind in Saint Lucia. So what does it matter that there were the inevitable artistic disagreements? It happens whenever talents come together for a project. That is why even the most spectacularly successful events always hold post-mortems in the best interests of future productions. Too bad, judging by what is now common knowledge, Hot Couture suffered tongue lashings from the most unexpected quarter—even before the first model audition. As for what followed the most successful event, clearly the problem was an insatiable ego that sought to demean everyone else involved, from Adrian Augier to the Tourist Board (collectively and individually!) to the show’s producer Mae Wayne.
Rightly, they ignored most of the comments or dismissed them as the rantings of an ego maniac and fodder for Facebook losers for whom there is only one side to a story: the one that appeals to them most.

.... read rest of article and reader comments here

I will post my comment that I made on the Star website here also, it is still awaiting moderation at this time, so probably can't be seen there

""Rightly, they ignored most of the comments or dismissed them as the rantings of an ego maniac and fodder for Facebook losers for whom there is only one side to a story: the one that appeals to them most."
tThis article
blatantly tells 'only one side of the story' and I would like to note, that I do not consider myself a 'facebook loser' and am quite sure that my professional peers do not either - this is assassinating my character.
If the practice is to hold 'post mortems' then why has none been held with ALL PARTIES involved in this event instead of just one side of the opinions being taken into account by SLTB?
If the intent of SLTB was 'from the get go' to have 'all st; lucian' talent - then why was the Textile Coop TICSL nor the Creative Development Network not contacted 'from the get go'? TICSL requested a meeting with SLTB and had it in November 2013 making suggestions to them about how Fashion could be incorporated - yet they were not involved or invited 'from the get go', only after McDoom came in - The SLTB knows exactly how to contact me for sure - I email them off and on about my feelings on the arts in Jazz (which are largely not positive on how we are 'facilitated' and not given suitable arrangements) but I got involved at the invite of a local designer.
I attended the trunk show and sold only to my friends who I had invited - I saw a few hotel guests and one buyer from Martinique who was with another friend of mine.
Finally, dismissing the differences as just those that are 'normal' between creatives?!? What a load of crap. We are professionals who have genuine issues with parts of the event. The fact that a good show was put on on the night is great, but it DOES NOT mean that there were many things that could have and perhaps should have been done differently and so far - no post mortem has been held
There NEEDS to be a post mortem on this event where ALL opinions of ALL of the PROFESSIONALS - those with big egos and all can be openly heard." Finola Prescott

Handpainted Silk by Lyn Bristol of LBM Designs, St. Lucia, Jewelry by Finola Prescott of Island Effect, St. Lucia

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Hot Couture Affair - by Norbert Williams

I participated in this event at the invite of my friend and colleague, designer, Lyn Bristol of LBM Designs - it was a good show - but I knew it had 'issues' in the lead up, planning and management. I was interested in taking part as soon as I heard that Vincent McDoom was going to be the Creative Director - a local who had left St. Lucia years ago and excelled in France working in fashion houses and on TV - as a celebrity guest, host, judge on Tyra Banks' Top Model shows and more - he is a character for sure, but he has truly excelled and I admire his success in a world I know is tough and super-highly competetive.

Caribbean Media: 2013 'Hot' Couture &emdash;
My necklace and earrings on LBM Designs at Hot Couture Fashion Show 2013

But my history as a designer - artisan goes way back with the St. Lucia Jazz Festival and it is largely a history of not being happy or satisfied with what's provided for local talent of all kinds, say so, particularly in my area - to the persons who are responsible - writing emails, going to meetings, meeting the consultants who reviewed the festival and came up with this year's new version the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Well, let's just say, we are not off to a great start from the standpoint of the artisans and designers....the Hot Couture show was good because those involved as desingers and models and the artistic director in particular, sought to put their best foot forward...but read here for a review - by an independent St. Lucian (not a designer) who wanted to bring some facts to light - please do comment.

I will also post comments from Facebook as soon as I have permission from the commenters to do so

Not in the cumulative history of modeling in St. Lucia has there ever been such drama, intrigue, mauvais langue, inflated egos, and downright bullshittery as has been witnessed surrounding the HOT COUTURE fashion/modeling aspect of St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2013. As I see it this sordid affair is more than just HOT COUTURE. It is more than Vincent Mc Doom or the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB). It is more than the models or designers. It is more than Jazz. Under the microscope is how we conduct business in St. Lucia; how we treat our own people vis-a-vis how we treat foreigners, and what we accept or are forced to accept.

Sitting down here in my lopsided chair trying to decide where to begin is a task in itself. There are so many angles and perspectives it dulls the mind. So many people, so many interests, so many stories, all important in the final big picture. So rather than beginning in 2013 I will roll back the clock and kick off where I feel is a more appropriate commencement in this scheme of things. The year, 1991.

In 1991 the US indicts two Libyans in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; Warsaw Pact dissolved; Boris Yeltsin becomes first freely elected president of Russian Republic; Professor Anita Hill accuses Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment; Soviet Union breaks up after President Gorbachev's resignation; St. Lucia has it's first ever Jazz Festival.

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival was created to boost the island's tourism industry during the time of year when hotel occupancy was at it's lowest as a result of the end of the winter season. After consultations with a foreign and local entities it was decided that a jazz festival would be an ideal marketing tool in attracting visitors to the island during this waning period. It was decided that big name international jazz artistes would be on the lineup in order to have maximum appeal. It must be noted that from the inception the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) was primarily concerned with the filling of airline seats and hotel rooms. At time there was minimal, if any, focus on local talent or participation. The bulk of funding evidently went to foreign artistes and production.

In my opinion this concept was flawed from it's very inception. The SLTB focused on foreign tourism as the only salvation for a waning tourism sector during that time of year. However local tourism seems to have been totally ignored and continues to be neglected as a source of significant revenue during this low season. I beg to suggest that traveling from Vieux Fort to Castries for whatever reason, whether it be Jazz or shopping, or cricket at Beausejour, these individuals are indeed tourists. If we are to suggest the introduction of sports, medical, or university (medical schools) as tourism, then our own traveling to support these services should therefore be considered as local tourism. In all sincerity they do spend money on transportation, housing, tickets, meals, and entertainment, in the same manner as foreign tourists. For example, a person traveling within New York state, from Albany to New York City is considered a tourist. There is no differentiation just because they are within the same state.

Over the years there has been an almost resistant inclusion of local artistes into the jazz festival. There have been brouhahas through the years with artistes complaining and boycotting the event with claims of unfair treatment, lack of appreciation for their skills, and minimal compensation for their performances.

2013 has seen the re-branding of St. Lucia Jazz to include the arts. As part of this endeavour it was decided to incorporate a fashion and modeling aspect to the festival. The SLTB realized they did not have the expertise to produce such a show and as a result contacted Vincent Mc Doom to advise on the production of such a show. Vincent accepted their request for assistance and came on board as the Artistic Director. This was confirmed in a telephone interview on Friday with SLTB Director Louis Lewis. As part of the agreement Vincent Mc Doom's airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation, and other perks would have been paid by the SLTB. Vincent Mc Doom offered to render his services free of charge as a St. Lucian giving back to his country.

I find it fitting at this time to include a link to the definition of the role and responsibilities of an artistic director:

On the announcement of Vincent Mc Doom's appointment Shamark Leon, Director of Silhouette Fashion House took to the airwaves to voice his discontentment.

Internet Movie Database for Vincent Mc Doom

On viewing this response from Shamark Leon I anticipated an immediate response or some form of action from the SLTB in order to mitigate any fallout or negative repercussions from the statements made. Lamentably there were none. This was also confirmed by the Director of the SLTB, Louis Lewis during my telephone interview on Friday. He said there were thirteen events to coordinate and as such they did not want to be distracted by these happenings. This only allowed the situation to spin further out of control. I wonder if we had another bus hijack during that time whether the SLTB's response would have been the same? Could it be that this episode only involved locals and therefore was no big deal?

Here is part of my telephone interview with Vincent Mc Doom on Thursday afternoon:

Me: How did you become involved with the HOT COUTURE aspect of St. Lucia Jazz and Arts 2013?
Vincent:  I was contacted by the SLTB to advise and coordinate the show in the capacity of artistic director.

Me: Was there a contract defining your role and responsibilities?
Vincent: No there was not. I accepted the offer and volunteered to do it for free as a way of giving something   back to St. Lucia.

Me: What really caused the problems which surfaced during the lead up to the show?
Vincent: I was disenchanted by the pittance which was offered to the models. It really upset me that these young people who we claimed to be helping were being offered such a pittance for their hard work. Imagine being offered $60-$75 to participate in a show of this magnitude. I would not have it happening under my guidance. It was exploitation in my books and I did not like it. The impression I got was as if they should feel honoured that they even got the opportunity to be a part of the show and should cherish that. Mae and I suggested that the SLTB pay the models $700 each for their participation. The SLTB said this was not in their budget and could not afford to pay that amount, and as a result we settled for each model to be paid $500.

Me: What happened with the stage?
Vincent: Well, as the artistic director it is my responsibility to oversee the whole production process. My vision of the theme and format of the presentation falls clearly within the framework of the artistic director. I was surprised and taken aback when I was presented on the day before the event with a stage that I had no input whatsoever.

Me: In light of what has happened would you be willing to return next year and participate in another production and would you be willing to work with the SLTB?
Vincent: Norbert, I am dedicated to helping models in St. Lucia. I have no problem in working with the SLTB or anyone else.

Kudos must be given to the St. Lucia Tourist Board though. Their accomplishment with Jazz in St. Lucia has been monumental in its success. Notwithstanding the myopic view with which Jazz was formulated they have worked relentlessly in sustaining it's international prominence. They have filled hotel rooms. They have provided employment in all the ancillary services during this period of otherwise low occupancy.
Here is part of my telephone interview with SLTB Director Louis Lewis on Friday morning:

Me: There has been much contention over the capacity in which Vincent Mc Doom was brought in by the SLTB to participate in HOT COUTURE. What was his official capacity?
Louis: We recognized that we did not have the expertise in the SLTB to handle the production of this show. As a result we reached out to Vincent Mc Doom in Paris and expressed our interest in having him assist. He accepted and volunteered to render his services for free. He was taken aboard as the Artistic Director. Vincent's role was to select and train the models as we wanted an entirely St Lucian cast, as well his artistic input in the production .

Me: What happened on the day before the show?
Louis: 26 hours before the show was due to open Vincent was at the Audi Showroom. He was not pleased with the runway which had been constructed by Adrian Augier. He had other ideas for what the runway should be and made requests for the change. Particularly that it be mirrored, among other changes. I informed him that at this late hour there was really not much which could have been done. There were heated words between us but that was that.

Me: Yesterday I conducted a telephone interview with Vincent Mc Doom. He said that despite all that had transpired he is still willing to work with the SLTB or anyone else next year in hosting another HOT COUTURE event. Would you be willing to work with him in the interest of St. Lucia.
Louis: Well, I can tell you that I have no problem with Vincent personally. I believe that he is sincere about his intentions to assist his country. However, that is my personal position. The decision of the SLTB is not left entirely up to me.

Me: Is there anything more you would like to say on behalf of the SLTB?
Louis: All I can tell you at this time is that a press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, 22nd. May, 2013 at 10 AM.

So, can cooler heads prevail in the interest of our own progress and betterment? Can we put aside our overinflated egos and work together? Squabbles such as this occur all the time in the entertainment and modelling industry. St. Lucia's experience of this is minor in the big scheme of things. The question remains as to whether the persons involved are mature enough to let go of their bruised egos. The silence from the SLTB has been deafening. 

In the midst of this uproar certain individual actions have come to light. Utterances in private and among friends are just as important or consequential as those made in the public domain. Private comments are even more revealing as they expose inner feelings and attitudes which would otherwise not be exposed in public. It has been brought to my attention that a senior member of the SLTB changed their BB status message on Wednesday to the following, "I'm so over HOT COUTURE!! MOVE ON people!!!!"

Seriously!?? Am I now to assume that this person has any interest in dealing with the issues at hand pertaining to this matter? Is this individual truly concerned about the interests of ALL St. Lucians affected? Should we expect any serious consideration of the issues and complaints surrounding HOT COUTURE by this individual? If anything, this BB status suggests a dismissive tone. One of contempt and disdain. The next question to ask is whether this attitude is pervasive within the SLTB?

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, a well-known quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, and refers to the benefits of openness and transparency. Many of the personal messages and comments I have received overwhelmingly suggest that a large number of St. Lucians believe that the SLTB is an entity unto itself and does not have to answer to anyone. Many people remain silent even though they agree with the grievances expressed. There seems to be a subtle apprehension that individuals who speak out will be targeted and discriminated against. Where is this fear coming? Is this a figment of their imagination or has there been evidence of such retribution. Even in my lead up postings during this past week I have had persons who have forcefully suggested that I "drop" the story. That "this thing needs to be put to rest." I wonder how we can progress and learn from past mistakes if we avoid critically discussing issues such as this. Whether we like it or not this dirty laundry can be cleaned up.

If the U.S. can be allies with Japan after 2402 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor by these same Japanese; if Japan can turn around and also be allies with the U.S. after atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing approx. 244,000 people; if the current tourism minister Lorne Theophilus can jump ship from the UWP and become a candidate and minister in the SLP; if George Odlum could team up with John Compton on the William Peter Boulevard in what was described as an "Unholy Alliance"; if Vaughn Lewis can jump from the UWP to SLP and be received with open arms; surely Vincent Mc Doom and the SLTB can work hand in hand again in the interest of St. Lucia. Anyone suggesting otherwise is naive and and unrealistic.

Lets be clear. Vincent Mc Doom is damn good at what he does! His accomplishment speaks for itself. A poor St. Lucian boy who made his way out of St. Lucia with little fanfare. Someone who has seen exploitation in the modeling and fashion industry firsthand, Vincent's success was no mistake or stroke of luck. To achieve his level of celebrity and prominence in an industry of sharks and barracudas says much about the individual. He is not a perfect man. Neither is he the most politically correct nor diplomatic in how he presents his arguments. However we need to sometimes distance ourselves from the emotional aspects of a person's argument and focus on the content which is valid. In criticizing Vincent's complaints too many people have zeroed in on his personality rather than address the real issues at hand. There seems to be a concerted effort to completely ignore the message and shoot the messenger. Regardless of how anyone feels about the issues which Vincent Mc Doom has now brought to the fore, these same complaints have been exposed over the years by many individuals associated with Jazz and other aspects of St. Lucian life. Unfortunately none of them have had the independence and testicular fortitude to expose it without feeling intimidated or threatened.

Should we be convinced that the complaints from so many models, designers, and others are all a figment of their imaginations concocted by Vincent Mc Doom as part of some outlandish scheme to discredit the St Lucia Tourist Board? Regardless of how we may feel about Vincent we cannot be misled into believing that this is simply an over reaction on his part by dubbing him a drama queen. This is an overly simplistic explaining away of a situation which requires serious consideration and evaluation.

May the good Lord bless our island,
Guard her sons from woe and harm!
May our people live united,
Strong in soul and strong in arm!
Justice, Truth and Charity,
Our ideal forever be!

St. Lucia nice, more than twice!©

Peace and Love

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oh I do Love to be Beside the Seaside

Some photos from yesterday evening at Reduit Beach, in front of Bay Gardens Beach Hotel, St. Lucia - taken with friends as we watched the sun play with the water before it headed West past our horizons
Golden Seas


Golden Sands

Golden Skies

Soft Seas at Sunset
 Very often, I'll enhance my photos to bring out the feeling I had when taking them - I like to see what art I can draw out of or add in to photographic images - and I'll probably do the same with some of these, but for now, they're all as they came out of the camera - as nature presented itself yesterday - enjoy!
Soft steel

Cool gold
Angel Pink White
If you'd like to use or repost or pin my images for non-commercial use - please put a link back to my blog and credit me properly thanks! If you'd like to use for a commercial purpose, please contact me for a watermark free image and pricing thanks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Soapmaking Workhsops

Some of the soaps - de-ee-lish!!
I love handmade soaps - I've been making my own for about 15 years now and recently, a bunch of my friends have been asking if I'd teach them how...so I decided to do a little Intro to Soapmaking class one Satruday...Well, the response has been overwhelming!!! I have run two full workshops the last couple weekends and plan to do one or two this coming weekend too!

They've been a blast! A real mix of people attending - Spa managers, teachers, fellow designers, curious adventurers! And last weekend we were joined by the writer of a great new blog - Island Scene 758 - a blog highlighting all the happenings in St. Lucia - with a growing calendar of events so you will know in advance what's interesting to do and not just after the fact about the things you missed! Take a look at the post about the Soapmaking Workshop here

lining the moulds
Interested? Drop me a line - just $75 EC for a fun and info-filled few hours!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

To Everything its Season

Mount Gimie in the Dry Season sunset yesterday
Sitting watching the gray skies above the yellow-dry grass this morning, willing the rain to fall - the met office rainfall records for the past how many days have remained the same;

                                  AT GFL CHARLES..........NIL.       
                                      AT GFL CHARLES...0.7 MM."

We could really do with some rain...but there's always something else that is good for the season

Yesterday I was drawn outside by the sound of bees...bees! Finally! I've been slowly (very slowly) becoming a beekeeper over the last year and have become very aware of the complete lack of bees in my yard - where the thyme, always flowering, would always be busy with bees, it has remained silent this year or so...so when I heard that familiar buzz, I went outside to look up to the tree and sure enough, the bees had come.

They were there with the birds too - lots of hummingbirds, lots of banana birds

But the gray skies kept their rain

So this morning again, the bees were buzzing, so I went out to see them and realized of course, the earth, dry and shrinking, would surely yield up some rocks...here's what I found
'Moon Rock'

4 Quartz pieces picked up under the Flambouyant Tree

3 Jaspers (ish) 

Look at that colour!
I'd still like those clouds to drop the good stuff for us, but to everything its season

Perhaps one day soon I'll have my bees in the back yard making honey, my rocks on the lathe transforming to jewelry and my kiln turning the earth into vessels, beads, shapes and textures full of stories

Leaf Art

Leaf Art too

Flower from the tree the bees are visiting

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dusty Final Reports - a Feature of Arts & Crafts Development

This article was third in the series I think, but I didn't link to it here, so I'm posting it now and hope you'll enjoy and leave your thoughts too!
Raku glazed traditional pottery - FAO/ Ministry of Agriculture Craft Packaging for Agro-Industries Training
Some people may wonder why, when we finally have a Ministry Department that is specifically dedicated to developing the ‘Creative Industries’ I’m ‘complaining’ about what hasn’t been done…well, yes, it is –hopefully- great that we have this department, but I know many people in my part of the Creative Industries are not holding their collective breath. I’ve had people tell me things like “I went to one of those consultation meetings and it felt like all they were interested in was getting a Rihanna so they could rake in the taxes” Now, granted, I wasn’t at that meeting, I didn’t make it to any of them, and though I did get to speak to the consultant anyway, I’m still concerned; I know many of us worry that our less glamorous arena will be left still to struggle for itself.

You see, it comes back to last week’s issue with the concept of what Creative Products are – or as we call more commonly call them ‘Arts & Crafts’. We think of these as low-income activities that mostly are done by persons who couldn’t succeed in academics, persons who want to just do a little thing and are generally not very professional, can’t run a business, etc.

It was put to me by one of my peers that “…’they’ really don't understand that the (local) music is primarily a local product; It doesn't export readily. Art & crafts export very easily and are able to reach other markets immediately, as we are ready.” In thinking about it, I thought there certainly is some local music that is ready to export, and these days with digital files, they can export super-easy… but that’s it for true, ‘they’ just don’t see the huge potential and much wider availability of ready and almost export ready product in the Arts & Crafts…we’re ready, and those that are not yet, there are relatively easy paths to making them ready … quickly. We even (maybe just with a little updating) have the plans…
Decorative Honey Pots waiting to be fired - Irene Alphonse
 A little history: In 1992 when I was the Craft Development Office in the Ministry of Community Development, I inherited several boxes of reports on an OECS project funded by FEDEAU – years of study upon study of potentially lucrative businesses in arts and crafts…all those reports did was gather dust. In 1997, I was asked to draft a plan for developing the ‘crafts industry’ to submit for STABEX (EU) funding: I did this with NRDF, FRC, SEDU involved, but it was, rightly, I believe, set aside for reconsideration under the bigger umbrella of the Heritage Tourism Project. In 1999, this project brought in a consultant, Annu Ratta, who spent six months doing the research, data collection, projections, etc and wrote up a full proposal. It had mostly the same elements as our original one – why? Because they were sound elements, the plan was based on knowledge of what was needed. It is still largely relevant…but the only ‘actions’ that have happened since are more meetings, consultations and a smattering of small, disjointed projects that barely scrape the surface and leave recipients momentarily excited and then dumbfounded when they realize all the infrastructure and institutional support they need to grow and succeed, just isn’t there and despite being recommended in the copious ‘Final Reports’ is never implemented. We need cohesive development.
Students dying Pandanus at FAO/Min of Agri training
So, to end, let me share an inkling of the size of this industry in St. Lucia …no comprehensive survey has been done so we have to gather and interpret incidental information:  A recent survey put practicing artisans in Choiseul, at just under 200; when I had shops I easily had 100 suppliers, of whom only a few were from Choiseul; In the last year or so, I’ve trained about 50 persons I did not previously know were artisans, there are another 20 or so in the Dennery Mabouya valley area, many in Babonneau and surrounds; each village has a handful or more, not to mention the numbers of people who make and sell crochet, dolls, fashion designers, photographers selling prints, painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, shoemakers…even from the above, you can readily assume there are over 500 individuals currently making part or all of their living from ‘Arts & Crafts’. I feel strongly that if you really made an effort to count, you’d find many more that do, did or wish to. This sector, treated right, could employ two, three or more times this amount and as I’ll talk about next week, provide value to St. Lucia far beyond the dollar earned. This sector needs a concerted focus for development.

And don’t forget, please, leave your comments, ask questions, get involved! Your input really counts!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Appeal of Slow Fashion and Practical Things

I'm hoping that readers will pop over to the St. Lucia Voice Newspaper site and read and comment there - let them know the articles are being read!



Keep tuned - and please do give your thoughts and opinions - if you'd like to do so off the public site - email me at island.effect@yahoo.com