Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Art traditions here are a combination of native Caribbean influences as well as African origins. Many of the motifs are centered around island life. As far as handicrafts go, you’ll find weaving (mainly as rug weaving) and making batiks (a way of dying cloth using wax to resist certain colors). Wood carvings and sculptures are also common as well as leather work.

Pottery serves more practical purposes with holding water and other objects as well as being used for cooking and storing food. You’ll find pottery pieces made out of red clay but sometimes people use colorful glazes on it, decorating it with local designs.

Paintings are also popular on Saint Kitts & Nevis. With such beautiful landscape and seascape, the scenery is an obvious source of themes. However, island life and local culture and folklore are also common themes for paintings. One cultural item that makes its way into their art is that of clowns. No, I’m not talking about Pennywise-like clowns, or even Ronald McDonald. They’re called Moko-Jumbies, inspired from West Africa; they’re essentially stilt walkers dressed up in clown garb. Some are just colorful, but some are downright creepy-looking giants. It's a colorful experience to say the least.

Although there is no shortage of writing talent in Saint Kitts & Nevis, there is also a clear lack of access to training and publishers. Most authors start out self-publishing their works, unless they are lucky enough to get picked up by a major publisher elsewhere. Literary works as we know it today didn’t truly get its start until the 20th century, although there certainly have been stories passed down through the generations.

Caryl Phillips
One of the most famous authors of note from the islands is Caryl Phillips. His plays, short stories, novels, and essays made international fame starting in the 1980s. His themes center around immigration and returning to your homeland.

Carol Ottley-Mitchell

Another author of note is Carol Ottley-Mitchell. She has written numerous children’s stories that range from infant books to young adult lit. Other authors from Saint Kitts & Nevis include Charles Wilkin, who writes about the national political atmosphere, and Jewel Amethyst, who is a romance author that falls in a multi-cultural subgenre.

I think literature holds a certain regard here. Some people have formed reading groups together, but it’s nothing formal or broadly organized. Theatre is also popular on both islands. A couple of theatre organizations are established here as well, but mostly of an amateur, community level.

Up next: music and dance

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