‘Bamboo Works’ Workshop Participants Showcase Creativity at Taste of Saint Lucia Expo

H.E. Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, and Mrs. Chen join some of the Bamboo Works workshop participants in their booth at the Taste of Saint Lucia Expo in Rodney Bay.
H.E. Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, and Mrs. Chen join some of the Bamboo Works workshop participants in their booth at the Taste of Saint Lucia Expo in Rodney Bay.

Several participants of a recently-held bamboo training workshop got the opportunity to showcase their creativity at the Taste of Saint Lucia — ARC Edition held at Rodney Bay from December 15-16, 2023.

The Taste of Saint Lucia Expo, which was designed to give local small business owners an opportunity to display their products and derive revenue through the sale of these products, formed part of events for the 2023 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. The two-day event featured products from over 50 local businesses — ranging from clothing, food, arts and crafts, condiments, local rums, and gifts or ornaments.

For three weeks in November this year, 25 participants benefited from a bamboo training workshop entitled “Bamboo Works”, which was sponsored by the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Saint Lucia and facilitated by the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF).

Under the guidance of Ms. Ya Ching Lee of Taiwan, who shared her specialty in bamboo weaving and contemporary product design, the participants focused on the naturally sustainable and beautifully-crafted creations that can be made using various techniques to grow, treat, harvest, preserve and shape bamboo.

At the Taste of Saint Lucia Expo, the bamboo workshop participants showcased items such as brooms, lamp stands, stool, coffee table, boats, baskets, jewelry, flower pots, and mugs, among others — all made from bamboo.

Murchel Hippolyte, Director of Business Development at the CDF, said one of the objectives of the workshop was to help the participants marry their own skills with the new techniques they learned in order to create value-added items that have greater appeal and that can inspire other people to become interested in the art form.

“CDF is very big on training people to deliver. Arts and culture are among the biggest things for us. The workshop was really about training people to use bamboo — our national plant — to create many things from its different styles and techniques,” Hippolyte said.

He added: “Our impression at the CDF is that if these participants can create such beautiful products in just about a month, imagine what they can do with more access to training and more resources. The sky’s the limit, and we’re very excited as to where this can actually go.”

Glenfield Gilbert, Senior Research Officer at Export Saint Lucia, said one of the main objectives of the Expo was to offer Saint Lucians alternative gift ideas for the Christmas season. He noted that the featured exhibitors at the Expo were among Saint Lucia’s finest.

“The quality of the products from Saint Lucia is phenomenal,” Gilbert stated. “Of course, we do expositions all around, especially in the markets we target for export, so we see what the competition is offering. So there’s nothing we can point at there and say that’s better than what’s produced in Saint Lucia.”

Meanwhile, Luceleen Modeste, one of the bamboo workshop participants, said showcasing her work at the Taste of Saint Lucia Expo has boosted her confidence. Modeste, who lives in Choiseul — considered the craft capital of Saint Lucia — said working with bamboo is now easier having participated in the workshop.

“The workshop was very interesting because there were so many things we realized we could use bamboo to produce,” Modeste explained. “We also learned how to strip the bamboo much better. So my advice to others, especially young people, is to join someone who knows the craft so you can learn a trade and become self-employed.”

Another workshop participant, Kelly Calderbank, who admitted to joining the workshop one week after it started, said the experience has been both inspirational and rewarding for him. Having his items on display at the Expo, he said, felt surreal.

“This has been a really fantastic trip for me because I never knew that we could do so much with bamboo,” Calderbank said. “I’ve used bamboo before to prop up floors, but the workshop taught me that I could do so much more. I’m just happy I got the introduction to see what’s possible. In fact, I’ve already received an order from a friend to make a guitar stand.”

Taste of Saint Lucia Expo was hosted by Export Saint Lucia, in collaboration with the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, World Cruising Club, and Events Company of Saint Lucia.

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