Reef Lantern Big Winner

Image: Francis displays her lantern at Derek Walcott Square last week Friday evening. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Francis displays her lantern at Derek Walcott Square last week Friday evening. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Kylie Francis walked away with the Most Outstanding Lantern Award last Friday evening in this year’s lantern competition and display held at Derek Walcott Square. The competition was held as part of National Day celebrations.

Her coral reef-themed lantern, “Kléwé Anba Lanmé”, also placed first place in the Contemporary/Modern (Seniors) category, earning her $2,300 in total winnings.

Francis, a computer technician from Pavee, Castries, said she has been participating in the lantern competition for the past three years. In 2013, she placed third in one of the categories but had a dry spell last year. This year, however, she saw some light, thanks to her mentor.

Image: Francis and mentor, Gary Butte. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Francis and mentor, Gary Butte. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
“I work alongside Gary Butte. He’s the person who got me involved in lantern making after recognizing that I had some talent in art. He’s my mentor.”

Butte, an artist, has been facilitating many training workshops across the island for the past nine years for people interested in making lanterns, especially in schools. He said despite being a co-creator on some of Francis’ projects, she’s passionate about what she does.

Francis said it takes a lot of effort on her part to create the lanterns, especially since she’s still new to the craft. Over the few years she’s been, however, she’s learned a thing or two about bringing the right mix of attitude, perseverance and artistry to her new hobby.

“At first, you’re not as focused as the experienced lantern makers but once you persevere, it pays off. I usually begin preparing my new lanterns right after the competition ends,” Francis told The VOICE. “Sometimes the concept might change along the way but it’s always best to at least know what you want to create.”

Francis said her wins came as huge surprises, considering the highly-competitive nature of the lantern competition that pits her against seasoned competitors. Win or lose, though, she believes in creating lanterns that light up people’s eyes and hearts.

“Winning is the ultimate goal but my focus is to make a really good lantern that leaves a great impression on people,” Francis said. “The fact that people recognize all the hard work that went into it was really wonderful.”

Francis’ daughter, Nellie, picked up third place in the Contemporary/ Modern (Juniors) category for her lantern dubbed “Lismore the Chimp”, an indication that the lantern’s light is spreading across generations.

Her advice to anyone thinking about taking up the lantern making craft is simple: just do it.

“If you feel that you have some ability in the arts, pursue it. Go ahead and try different things to see what’s right for you. You just never know what may come out of it,” Francis said.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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