Barbados might be famous for its beautiful beaches and paradise scenery, but the island is also a hotspot for Bajan art. Travellers who regularly enjoy holidays in Barbados may have overlooked the hub of galleries and exhibitions that regularly showcase some of the most beautiful paintings and artwork in the Caribbean.
This week Kenwood Travel have been speaking to acclaimed Bajan artist Kraig Yearwood. In this article he tells us about his love of the female form, the future of the Bajan art scene and the island’s laid-back vibe.
Art is in the heart
Like all creative souls, Kraig’s passion for art started from birth: “As long as I remember, I’ve always had a need to create images. I came out of the womb scribbling and at school I drew all over my books”. Art was initially just a hobby for him and the young talent pursued a career in the island’s thriving tourist industry. However the paintbrush was calling and Yearwood soon left his job to pursue the life of an artist. Taking inspiration from everything around him, Kraig had an innovative and thrifty approach to his work: “I started using every day objects from friends’ houses…My first solo show in 2000 titled “Eclectic Blue” featured pieces made from parts of cupboards and newspapers, in addition to canvas paintings.”
Female faces and quick-drying paint
Inspired by the world around him, Yearwood’s fascination with nature and the human form is palpable in his work. It all started with a gift from his grandmother at age 7: “(she) sent me a monthly subscription to National Geographic and this sparked my curiosity in people and places, and my love of nature”. The artist’s work has a raw quality about it; both powerful and sensual, Kraig’s colourful canvases explore difficult subjects including personal relationships and introspection. Working principally in acrylic, Kraig’ impulsive style is reminiscent of Australian artist Rolf Harris: “the quick drying time challenges me to work constantly on the surface. My approach is spontaneous, intuitive and experimental, usually without the use of preliminary sketches and little or no predetermined colour choices”.
The blue challenge
Though its creative scene is still in its infancy, Barbados is an inspirational place to live and work as an artist. The colour blue features heavily in Yearwood’s paintings, a reflection of the island’s clear sky and azure sea. Monet had Giverney’s lilies but our Bajan painter has an island paradise as his muse, “From the fantastic tropical light, lush landscapes, stunning ocean vistas and vibrancy of life, to the fact that it’s a true melting pot of interesting people and cultures…There is something for everyone here”. Though Barbados is home to an army of budding creatives, there has not been much investment in the Arts as Kraig explains: “traditionally there has not been much emphasis on pushing our creative sectors…this has lead to many of our talented people being forced to seek a living outside the island”.
Though the life of an artist in Barbados is challenging, Yearwood has high hopes: “I hope one day we will have a national gallery where locals can view work, engage with artists and perhaps gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the arts”. Indeed, the future looks bright for island artists; the internet is increasingly used as a tool to communicate with the global art scene and there has been a growing movement of local art groups and collaborative projects. One success story is Bajan native Sheena Rose, who is currently participating in a residency in the U.S.A. where her experimental work has received warm praise.
Kraig has exhibited all over Barbados, his last show being the well-received “Goddess”, a two-man exhibition with local photographer Risee at the Aweipo Gallery. A man of many talents, Yearwood has had recent success with the launch of his own clothing line and has shared the runway with international designers including the legendary Carolina Herrera. Tourists in Barbados can visit Yearwood’s studio to see his current work but the budding Bajan is also keen to exhibit worldwide, having already shown work in the UK through the Barbados Embassy.
As the saying goes: you can take the boy out of Barbados but you can’t take Barbados out of the boy. Kraig is proud of his roots and passionate about his country. Telling Kenwood why he is happy to live the life of a Bajan artist, Yearwood gushed: “whether you just want to mellow out and relax or if you prefer to mingle at one of our many night spots, (Barbados has) an indefinable energy”. The artists of Barbados are beckoning you to the island: to find out more visit Kraig’s website or contact Kenwood Travel today.
Bajan Art Makes Its Mark
Hi Sarah, Like your blog. Thanks for thinking of our unique 3 Generations Art Show for another blog. I’ll be sending you some information tomorrow – hope you got my e-mail about it. The e-mail has been playing up a bit – island living for you! Be in touch. Sue