THE workshop, “Bamboo Works”, focuses on the naturally sustainable and beautifully crafted creations that can be derived using various techniques to grow, treat, harvest and shape bamboo into marketable items.
The participants were selected following an open call by the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), which has collaborated with the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to equip local artisans with the technical expertise needed to create sustainable income. Some participants have experience in the art form, while others have expressed an interest in taking it up seriously.
The workshop falled under the Youth and Women Empowerment Project sponsored by the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and is in response to the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire, and the Government of Saint Lucia’s policy.
The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Ya Ching Lee of Taiwan who provided her specialty in bamboo weaving and contemporary product design. Ms. Lee facilitated a similar workshop for hand-crafters in Choiseul in 2021.
At the official opening ceremony for the workshop held in the CDF conference room on Monday, November 6, 2023, H.E. Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, said the project aims to assist local youth and women to become economically independent by designing and merchandizing bamboo handicraft artworks to foreign tourists as Saint Lucia welcomes the opening of cruise ship season.
“The crafting skill, knowledge and creative ideas that local hand-crafters learned had equipped them with better expertise,” Ambassador Chen stated. “Two years after, when the tourism industry of Saint Lucia has revived and become vigorous, bamboo artworks should be more than a tool for supporting people’s living. It can be the delicate souvenir that boosts the consumption of tourists or stimulates the export to show Saint Lucia’s profession and talents.”
CDF’s Director of Business Development, Mr. Murchell Hippolyte, said the CDF was pleased to collaborate on the project since it dovetails with CDF’s vision of people development.
“The bamboo workshop (was) very exciting as it’s a source of people development because there’s the opportunity to up-skill our arts and craft practitioners,” Hippolyte said. “This is really what this session is about. I’m excited to see what the end-products will be in terms of the product enrichment and new creative ideas.”
Recognized as the national plant of Saint Lucia, bamboo has several uses, including being a raw material for furniture, cooking utensils, housing structures, baskets, and ornaments. Moreover, a popular pastime in Saint Lucia close to the end of each year has been bamboo bursting, which involves cutting a length of bamboo and inserting holes at strategic points through which kerosene and a naked flame combine to create a loud bang.