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This year's ‘Art for the Parks’ marked the fifth anniversary of the collaboration between the Abaco Beach Resort and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) in support of the national parks of Abaco. The event began on January 25 with a gala cocktail reception providing art lovers with the opportunity to preview all of the work and meet with the artists and artisans in a social atmosphere.

Art for the Parks supports Abaco’s natural history

Above: two patrons happy with their purchases at Art for the Parks. The annual fundraiser and social event highlights local and national artists along with entertainment and cultural talks.
Above: two patrons happy with their purchases at Art for the Parks. The annual fundraiser and social event highlights local and national artists along with entertainment and cultural talks.

This year’s ‘Art for the Parks’ marked the fifth anniversary of the collaboration between the Abaco Beach Resort and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) in support of the national parks of Abaco. The event began on January 25 with a gala cocktail reception providing art lovers with the opportunity to preview all of the work and meet with the artists and artisans in a social atmosphere.

During the brief opening ceremony, Lynn Gape, Deputy Director of the BNT, thanked the community of Abaco and the Abaco Beach Resort for their tremendous support. She also made special mention of various core artists and the committee who had worked extra hard to make Art for the Park’s a truly wonderful event. Eric Carey, Executive Director of the BNT, also added his thanks describing the Art for the Parks as a signature event on Abaco.

“This event makes it possible for us to do the things we need to do in the six national parks of Abaco, namely environmental education, managing the resources and providing opportunities for visitor access.”

An Abaco parrot, crafted in bronze by Pete Johnson in his foundry at Little Harbour, mounted on a piece of driftwood, was presented to Andrew Sweeting of the Abaco Beach Resort in recognition of their five years of support. Mr. Sweeting thanked everybody for attending and thanked Lynn Gape for the work she does in organising the event each year. He closed by saying that he is looking forward to five more years.

More than 30 artists and artisans from Abaco, Nassau and Freeport exhibited. The show was very well organised and the booths carefully placed so that even though there was quite a large crowd of patrons it was easy to move around and view all of the artists’ work. People were very impressed with the excellent standard of work exhibited. The booths were especially attractive this year due to the inception of a best booth competition.

The winner of this accolade was David Lowe with his display of tile art. His signature piece this year was a very large underwater scene comprising a variety of natural materials including sea sponges, sea fans, sea urchins corals and shells on an oil painted background interspersed, of course, with some of his signature tile pieces.

It would be nice to be able to comment on all of the artists and artisans but since time and space do not allow I will focus on first-time exhibitors at the show. Frances Sakach and Christina Halliday who were sharing a booth were both making their debut performance at the Abaco show. While Christina had shown her beaded jewellery at previous shows in the United States, this was the first show ever for Frances and she was very excited about presenting her custom conch shell jewelry under the name ‘Conch Diamonds’. It was refreshing to come upon something so new for Abaco. Frances described the process which results in her stunning conch shell pieces thus;

“I collect my shells from the throwaway piles of the conch vendors and take them home to clean out all the conch slop which is a very messy job. I then throw them overboard from the dock at the back of my house for the little fish to finish cleaning them out. Once clean, I use four saws to cut the shapes I want from the shells and a cabochon machine to grind and polish and give them a beautiful sheen.”

Karen plans to add another line of jewelry which will be crafted from coral which has been covered with rust off shipwrecks and which she finds along the shoreline in certain remote areas. These pieces of coral polished to a high sheen are truly pieces of rare beauty. Karen’s interest in rocks began as a rock collecting hobby as a young child.

Brianna Higgs has been experimenting with beaded jewelry for some time but a year or so ago she decided to turn her hand to making sea glass jewelry which she admits has now become a passion. She has also ventured into combining shells and sea fans along with the sea glass and she was excited to be showing for the first time at the Art for the Parks.

Stephanie Treco and her daughter, Lisa Higgs, made their debut appearance with their line of ‘Stephie Jewelry’. Their pieces all include different types of beads such as dyed jade, tiger eye, magnacite, black pearls and some shells all hand-crocheted together with 22 gauge different coloured wires. Stephanie also had on display a selection of her colourful resort wear.

Francoise Hedden, another newcomer to the Abaco art scene, displayed some very unique pieces which she crafts using beautiful decorative paper napkins obtained in France. She carefully takes them apart and removes the motifs she desires then applies them to boards which she has already painted in muted colours. The finished pieces present an ethereal effect. She says that she just takes any piece of board and lets the notches and imperfections speak to her as to how she will paint that particular piece which makes for interesting results. She also had on display her line of attractive, stenciled aprons.

David Rees is now following in the footsteps of his late grandfather, the well-known photographer Colyn Rees, and was participating in the Art for the Parks for the first time. Whereas his grandfather was well-known for his black and white scenic and aerial photography, David is specializing in colour photography of wildlife and underwater scenes. He also takes aerial shots but whereas his grandfather would fly his own small plane, David is of the next generation and uses a drone to get his shots.

I also mention Nicole Angelica for although she is certainly no newcomer to the Abaco art scene, since she has exhibited at every show except last year when she was sick, she had introduced something new this year. She is well known for her exquisitely detailed paintings of the old time Bahamas for she says; “My heart is in the old nostalgic times. I like to be true to The Bahamas and bring people back to times long ago. I like to bring them back to the alley and the bush and paint kids especially with bare feet. Abaco likes children.”

This year, instead of focusing solely on the old time scenes Nicole was displaying some unusual monochrome oil paintings which appeared almost as black and white photographs. “People have shown a lot of interest in these monochrome pictures,” she stated.

Kim Roberts is also a well-known artisan who regularly shows her Bahama Dawn line of products which include quilting, ceramics and jewellery but this year she added a new dimension by giving demonstrations of how she makes her glass beads.

The Bahamas National Trust’s booth at the entrance to the show carried an interesting assortment of literature on the national parks and all types of wildlife while also showing environmental videos and encouraging people to sign up as members of the trust. Brian Kakuk of the Bahamas Caves Research foundation also showed very interesting videos of the underwater world of Abaco.

Complimentary ‘Yellow Glen’ Pink Champagne was donated by Bristol Cellars.

Art for the Parks extended throughout the weekend with more art showings, cultural talks, entertainment and many more events.

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