A three-week workshop that focused on teaching local artisans how to use bamboo to create various items ended on a positive and reassuring note on Friday, November 24, 2023.
Twenty-five participants began the workshop, “Bamboo Works”, on November 6, which focused on the naturally sustainable and beautifully-crafted creations that can be made using various techniques to grow, treat, harvest, preserve and shape bamboo.
The participants were selected following an open call by the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), which 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 had previous experience in the art form, while others had an interest in taking it up seriously.
The workshop falls 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.
H. E. Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, and Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, visited the workshop venue at CDF briefly on Tuesday, November 21. While there, Ambassador Chen and Hon. Dr. Hilaire interacted with the participants, viewed some of the items produced during the course of the workshop, and encouraged them to continue learning their craft and also tap into the economic potential of their products.
Items produced during the workshop included cups, mugs, flower pots, smoking pipes, boats, baskets, hand bags, pencil holder, brooms, chair, wall mirrors, and children’s toys.
The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Ya Ching Lee of Taiwan who shared her specialty in bamboo weaving and contemporary product design. Lee, who facilitated a similar workshop for hand-crafters in Choiseul in 2021, said she was impressed with the participants’ performances.
“I think it was a nice thing that they inspired me because they have a vast original knowledge and skills,” Lee said. “Some of them are artists, so they used their knowledge to do the bamboo weaving to create new products. At first, they were designing products seemed difficult to create given the short time they had, but it inspired me that they were able to finish their items.”
Mrs. Raymona Henry-Wynne, Executive Director, said the CDF continues to find ways to empower citizens to not only embrace and hone their latent talents, but also gain sustainable incomes via their creativity.
“We believe that we have a lot of talented crafters, but believe also that their skills need to be honed,” she said. “We need to direct their skills into creating market-ready products, hence that partnership with TaiwanICDF, to ensure the skills that are out there are brought into Saint Lucia to assist our crafters.”
She added: “What we want to ensure is that, after the workshop, people can have options and opportunities to create products, whether for household use, the external market, or local market. Once we can achieve that with every workshop we have done, we can say that we have achieved the objectives set out.”