Crafts from a bygone era, art for the future
On Saturday, 22 November, Jamestown Community Centre was the place to view the creative talent of St Helena and get in on the creative action.
The annual Craftsfair, hosted by the Arts & Crafts Association, was a vibrant showcase for the many talented artists and crafters on the Island, and the enthusiastic public had the opportunity to not only view a wide range of creative disciplines, but also to try their hand at some of the crafts demonstrated during the day.
This year saw some innovations alongside the more traditional St Helena arts and crafts: digital art was on display as well as the recently introduced craft of fabric printing. Live entertainment added to the festive atmosphere with Creative St Helena doing drama, readings of local stories & interviews. The Arts & Crafts also showcased their “End of the Royal Mail Ship Era”-souvenirs with artist Andy Crowe signing limited edition prints of his painting which depicts the Southampton Castle, the old RMS St Helena and the current RMS St Helena in James’ Bay. This historic lifeline to St Helena will cease in 2016 when the RMS goes out of service. The A&C felt it important to commemorate what will be a dramatic change to life on the Island when air travel becomes a reality.
The St Helena Art & Crafts Association’s mission is to support local arts and crafts and, in particular, those traditional crafts which used to be the “life support mechanism” for many poorer families. Seedwork, aloe work and lace work all supplemented the meager income of families, so many women weren’t only housewives but were vital earners whose money helped to feed and clothe their families. Nowadays, with the advent of pensions and benefits, that urgent need has gone but the skills have been passed on to new generations who are seeking to develop new designs and products for today’s changing market.
The Fair was opened by Miss St Helena, Sinead Green, who spoke about the importance of our rich cultural heritage in arts and crafts. The Acting Governor visited later in the morning and was one of the people to be interviewed by the youngsters working with Pamela from Creative St Helena. It was lovely to see children enjoying themselves with Lindsay McGinnety who was showing them how to make mono prints and equally nice to have Longwood Brownies bring their Christmas cards to sell. They also helped with the Raffle!
And what’s next for Arts & Crafts? A special Christmas window with Rudolf and his friends at the Arts & Crafts Centre. He has already made the long journey from Santa’s land and apparently has been resting out at Fisher’s Valley! Besides their normal operating hours, the Arts & Crafts Centre will be open on Saturday evenings during December so that everyone can find their Uniquely Saint gifts.