Barbados' best artists and where you can find them
For such a small island, Barbados is bursting with artistic talent, whether it’s traditional potters and wood carvers or contemporary fashion designers and jewellers.
For those looking to catch some culture on a trip to the island, here’s where you can find the work of some of Barbados’ many resident artists!
One of the first things you’ll notice when walking around the streets of Barbados is the many colourful murals which adorn the walls of buildings, especially along the boardwalks.
These murals reflect on many aspects of island life, whether it’s the history, traditions or just landscapes of Barbados.
Most of the murals have been painted by local artists, although some are actually created using colourful pieces of local pottery such as the one on the south coast boardwalk.
Another of our favourite murals to look out for is the Speightstown Mural, to the north of the island. At 80ft long and 20ft tall, it’s extremely detailed and takes in a number of scenes, such as Harrison’s Cave, some of the local green monkeys and the moment the country gained independence.
Batik is a technique of dyeing fabric that uses wax and dye to create intricate patterns, either for clothing or just for decorative purposes.
While it originated in Indonesia, batik is also popular here in the Caribbean, with local examples showcasing the vibrant colours of the region. These fabrics tend to features lots of blues for the water and the sky, greens for the natural environment and the orange and red of the beautiful Bajan sunsets.
Batik can make for a really special gift for your friends and family back home and can be found at many outlets around the island such as the Pelican Craft Centre and the HP Batik Studio, where you can try it for yourself at one of the workshops of local artist, Henderson Reece.
The island is also home to Medford Craft World where mahogany wood is carved into some beautiful sculptures, as well as functional products too.
With a stunning location overlooking the ocean, there are tours available if you want to see the local craftsmen and women at work, where you can follow a raw piece of wood as it becomes the finished product through a process of careful carving, sanding and polishing.
No two pieces of wood are the same, making each product unique, whether it’s a sculpture, a vase or just a bookend!
Lots of painters and artists call Barbados home, with many galleries around the island showcasing their work, such as the Gallery of Caribbean Art in Speightstown.
Promoting art from the whole of the region, the gallery has a number of rotating exhibitions throughout the year, featuring the finest paintings, photos and sculptures.
Head to Barbados.org for a detailed list of some of the artists working on the island and some of the upcoming exhibitions.
The place to head for pottery is the village of Chalky Mount, in the north-eastern parish of St. Andrew.
Most of the village is involved in pottery making and has been for centuries, using clay from the area’s considerable deposits.
The locals are extremely welcoming to visitors and will be more than happy to chat to you about their work.
What’s more, the area has some of the best views on the island, looking out across the eastern coastline and the hills and valleys.
Along the beaches of Barbados, you’ll see many vendors selling handcrafted jewellery which have been painstakingly made by threading beads onto necklaces and bracelets. Many of the pieces are inspired by the ocean behind them, often incorporating shells into their work.
Alongside these street dealers, the island is also home to a number of award-winning studios, such as Tiyi by Design, run by Ichia Tiyi.
Barbados also has a thriving fashion design scene, with local boutiques experimenting with unique Caribbean twists on European styles, featuring lots of vibrant colours, hand painted sarongs, summer cottons and flowing loungewear.
Local garments are often made using the Barbados-grown West Indian Sea Island Cotton (WISC), a material known for its durability, versatility and coolness, which is vital in the Caribbean!
WISC has been compared to cashmere and is thought to be the most expensive cotton in the world.
Art is a really important reflection of Bajan history, tradition and culture, and it makes for a great authentic gift to take home, so be sure to seek out some of the local craftspeople around the island while you’re here in Barbados!