On February 23rd we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Devonish Art Gallery, operating in Barbados for 18 years and in my current residence the tiny Island of Anguilla for 31 years.

Carrolle and I would like to thank the many patrons, some old friends who were happy to be back after hurricane Irma and some new ones, who were visiting for the first time.

We must thank the few local supporters and encourage others to begin appreciating the visual arts; we hope the numbers will grow steadily. It took 15 years to grow the numbers in Barbados, given the history of Anguilla, 31 years still seem a poor statement.

It was a wonderful evening, both with attendance and financial support, we were very thankful, considering 2018 was a total financial write-off due to the powerful Hurricane Irma.

As usual with the gallery exhibitions, the work never stops, new creations will be added as they are created during the coming months. The gallery is also featuring a new collection of giclees by Sheri Erickson, noted for their colorful depiction of life in the Caribbean.

The exhibition is also featuring a small collection of sculptures from the oldest existing mahogany wood in Anguilla; The last piece of the trunk was bought from a leading local businessman some 30 years ago for a hefty price. The bill to transport the trunk was also hefty, a crane and a flatbed truck was needed to transport the 6 foot diameter trunk.

Unfortunately the mahogany tree must have died of old age, I was told that it fell; but some parts of the tree must have been still alive, considering the richness and beauty of some of the wood. Much of Anguilla’s history was associated with that mahogany tree; Two other tree trunks were subsequently bought, they were the offspring of the old tree. Wood from all three trees will continue to be featured in the coming days of the exhibition, as there are completed.

50 years in the life of an artist and entrepreneur was never easy, but there were memorable and incredible moments of success, and some very sad and unforgettable moments of failure, but we got up every time, dust of the sand and dirt and continued. We will continue to do so.

I would like to thank the many people who have accompanied us some of the way along the journey, there are many, and I am afraid to mention names, in case I leave out anyone. Unfortunately some have gone on. Many of the Barbados Hotels featured greatly in my journey, offering opportunities to set up pop up shops at no cost; most of the hotels were on the west coast but some of the south coast hotels played their part.

The Hotels must appreciate how big a part they play in the success of Artist/craftsmen, and continue to provide opportunities to showcase their work. There is one very important recommendation that was included in every report I wrote as a consultant for the Canadian Training Awards Project in the eighties, CTAP.

The reports were handed to different Caribbean Governments; but given the nature of politics, and election procedures, I am sure they are all lost and forgotten; but they are crucial to the development of art in the Caribbean.

 
  

RECOMMENDATION

Every hotel should be mandated to provide retail space for the sale of local Art and Crafts.
A crucial time to implement this mandate is in the MOA for new projects.
It does not matter who owns the business, artists and craftspeople should not care about the retail prices, once they are paid their agreed price. They should not let the retail prices affect subsequent wholesale prices.It is very hard for a craftsperson to see his $10 creation sold for $50.This is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the sale of local crafts.

The best solution is for the retail shop or gallery operate on a consignment basis with and agreed commission, be it 50/50; 60/40 or whatever. I am proud of Zemi Beach here in Anguilla who has adopted this practice. I am confident tourists prefer to see local products. I also learn that a USA university professor who played a major role my life as an artist, coincidentally  and indirectly might have played a role in the Hotel’s policy

This system works for both parties, particularly since more than 70% of hotel guests never leave the properties to go shopping.

If you plan to visit Anguilla this year, please visit the Devonish Art Gallery or visit us Online–devonishart.com

Soon Come–

There are many memories over the 50 years, but this one tops them all.

It all began at the bar in a then popular night spot in Barbados, A small group of us were engaged in a discussion, the group involved a leading politician, another Minister of the then government, myself and one other person

I cannot recall the exact topic of the discussion, but somehow the discussion got around to the business performances in Barbados.

The words of the leading politician rang out like church bells in my ears;.

“ People of color in Barbados should let white people who know how to run businesses run them”

It was like someone had stabbed me with a knife,

“Sir you are the head of the biggest business in Barbados, what color are you?

The other minister in his government kicked me on the leg and signaled to me to say no more – with one finger pressed tight over his puffed lips.

The topic of the conversation abruptly changed, like someone appllying the brakes to a motor vehicle as a child suddenly dart across the road.

The discussion took place on a Saturday night. The following Monday morning I experienced two surprises.

First the Minister called and sounded a warning.-Courtney my friend never does his own shopping for gifts; he is on his way to your gallery to purchase a gift, Take it as a warning.

A short while after the phone call, the friend walked in-“Brother Dev. I am going to Australia to a meeting, and would love to present the Prime Minister with a gift, “ at which point he asked me to chose a sculpture as the gift.

Many years passed before I ever repeated the story to anyone. I could have elaborated on his statement with an observation of my own, using the very statement to support the substance of my intended contribution; but never got the chance.

On a brighter note another Minister in the same government occupies a warm spot in my heart; the Minister once was said to me- “Mr. Devonish any time you see me in your gallery shopping, you can guarantee I am under some severe stress, your work bring joy and relief into my life.

There were a few sad occasions of losses of artwork, the first occasion was in Trinidad, where the major and largest sculpture in a shipment scheduled for an exhibition never showed up; luckily the $10.000 dollar sculpture was insured.

The second loss was in Toronto Canada, my son had moved back to Canada to live with his mother, for six years I spent the summer the months of May to November in Canada, so I can spend some quality time with him.

I also used the occasion to promote my work across Canada, sometimes with the help of the Tourist Board. There was an art gallery on the Toronto Harbor front that agreed to exhibit some of my work. Some pieces in the month of November, when I was leaving Toronto in the month of November the collection that were on exhibit was left until my return the following year;

Unfortunately the following year, the gallery, the owner and my work had vanished without trace.

The third loss was in the USA, after 2 successful exhibitions at a particular gallery, where the owner had paid in advance for all the sculptures featured in two previous exhibitions.

Third time around I agreed to exhibit the work on a consignment basis, after receiving payment for some sales, I was on a visit to The USA, only to discover the gallery no longer existed, and the owner was never found.

The remaining works included a relief sculpture I had donated to Drexel University, in honor a University Professor, who played a major role in the promotion and development of my work and career, including an exhibition at the university and other International exhibitions, as well as being a collector.

Today I no longer travel, but continue to exhibit at a couple of galleries outside of Anguilla.

Unfortunately I can count the number of Local patrons on one hand; which is prompting me to investigate the possibility of featuring an exhibition in a local supermarket; sounds mad, but it worked in Cave Shepherd in Barbados and Stevens and Johnson in Trinidad, which after 50 years are still the most successful exhibitions financially.

Soon Come–

I came on the Barbados art landscape at the time Tourism was reaching a healthy

climate and Caribbean Art was finding its place on the world map.

It is almost impossible to share my excitement in carving a piece of wood, unless you are a wood carver, a wood enthusiast, or a collector. The wood carving artist can only hope that the buyer at least feel a slight tingling of his experience.

An artist cannot see the beauty in a piece of wood when the bark is on, even when you remove the bark; the beauty of the wood is still hidden.

The real orgasmic sensation comes when you start to carve into, the warm sexy lines and curvy patterns, inspiring you to create forms that enables you the creator to experience a high that only him or her can put into words; you can only hope to share the experience with some lucky appreciative customer.

Sometimes it is a totally creative experience, no drawings, no prescribed object or form, just a silent communication between you, the wood and tools. .

As a businessman, your hope is that the buyer of the creative form can appreciate and share in your memories and language of the masterpiece.

I can recall a few weeks ago a lady picked a touch form that I distinctly remember carving, the same sensation being experienced; the tingling joy that was felt when the form was finally polished, with just mineral oil, like a beautiful lady without makeup.

The buyer looked at me like I was stark mad, she was buying a gift for a friend; but I could see that she really did not share my enthusiasm; in disappointment, I wished that her friend would see the beauty; or perhaps she did not want me to see her excitement in case I raised the price, it could not have been a coincident that she choose the most exciting form in the collection.

Discovering the beauty in wood as you carve is like seeing the model for an art class walk through the door in a heavy overcoat, then exposing her curvy naked body for you to recreate in clay.

After many years of experimenting with different wood finishes, French polish, linseed oil, Tung oil, Min wax, polyurethane etc, I finally ended up with mineral oil only, whether for sculptures or trays and bowls for food. The wood remains true to itself, as I noted before like a naturally beautiful woman without makeup.

I have carved many woods from all over the world, but my first love is mahogany, not too hard, termites would only eat the sap, it is warm, easy to both carve and sand, it is seductive and just plain beautiful.

Soon Come-

Anguilla is still relatively unknown to many travelers, what a shame!, because you are missing out on one of the best holiday destinations in the world.

Let’s assume you were lucky enough to hear about Anguilla and decided to give it a try, I can assure you it won’t be your last, You will discover some of the most beautiful and sparsely crowded beaches in the world.

The beaches are not only beautiful, there are 35 of them; you will have to take a month’s vacation or visit five beaches a day if you wish to explore all the beaches in one day. Don’t be in a rush, you can enjoy them on subsequent trips; have the pleasure of a new experience each visit.

When you are safely settled into your luxury hotel, don’t believe anyone who advise you to limit you stay to your hotel and its immediate surroundings; because there is nothing out there, it’s a downright lie.

As a matter of fact, why should you visit such a beautiful little Island and not discover its secrets. I too was a tourist 30 years ago and knew nothing about the Island, I never left after I discovered its magical and magnetic charm.

There is plenty out there to see and explore, but for now I will focus on one of your best shopping experiences.

The Devonish Art Gallery

The gallery is the first and longest running gallery in Anguilla, it was first located in Barbados for 18 years, before Mr. Devonish was unable to resist the magnetic charm and delicate life of Anguilla. The gallery was one of the earliest and leading galleries in Barbados before the move.

One stop Shopping.

The gallery is the showroom for sculptor and ceramic artist Courtney Devonish and bead artist and wife Carrolle Devonish; his art creations include original sculptures, and fine craft , -birds, bowls, trays, tropical fish among them; but the shoppers favorite is his silky smooth hand carved mahogany hearts; an excellent stress reliever.

The gallery also exhibits paintings, sculptures, giclees, prints and souvenirs by other Caribbean and international artists with an Anguilla experience.

Courtney has been a full time artist for 50 years, and lives in a tourist destination, he has created a concept that will please shoppers. Not only can you collect a work of art or one of Carrolle’s bead necklaces; There is a ample collection of tastefully selected souvenirs, ranging from Island prints, Xmas balls , custom designed T-shirts and other collectibles.

Be sure to visit us when in Anguilla; We have many celebrities among our visitors, and some people who may be apprehensive; if you will like a private shopping experience, we will be happy to arrange an after hours trip to the gallery.

We will even offer to take you on a one- stop trip from and back to your hotel or Villa, all you have is to guarantee us a minimum $20.00 sale, or a mahogany heart in exchange. Give us a call or send us an email-devonishart@yahoo.com or 1 264 235 5109.

We look forward to seeing you.

Are You Visiting Art Galleries / Craft Shops when on Vacation?
“““

Supporting Arts And Crafts on Your Travels

I live on the beautiful little Island of Anguilla in the British West Indies; I know you are going to say “Where?”. The quality of life on this little Island is so great that the rich and the famous have kept it a secret for years.

Anguilla is a 35square miles little Island, a 25-minute ferry ride or a five-minute small aircraft flight from St.Maarten/ St. Martín; and it is definitely not just for the rich and the famous, there are mid range properties that are comparable to the rates in other Caribbean countries.

We as artists and craft persons are patronized more from the mid-market travelers than from the rich and the famous.

It is unbelievable that one would visit such a beautiful destination would spend the entire holiday without leaving the hotel and its surrounding beach, except perhaps for a dinner night out. We invite you to include a visit to the art galleries and craft shops next time you take a vacation in any destination.

The inspiration to write these series of articles stem from the fact that our Island experience corporate groups spending a company paid for week and never leaving the hotel and it’s surrounding beaches and never being curious to see what the Island has to offer in the way of art and crafts.

I was reliably informed of a group of over 70 persons that were even given gifts that brought from the home country. How sad.

Are you planning to visit Anguilla?

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of which Rendezvous Bay is my recommended favorite where you can taste the best snapper or ribs at the Sun Shine Beach Shack you have ever eaten in your life at the Sunshine Beach Shack; if you have ever tasted better I would like to know where. I am the most critical and selective person when it comes to eating out.

Rendezvous beach is a very long stretch of beach serving 2 hotels and five beach bars and restaurants including the Dune Preserve owned and operated by Bankie Banks, a popular local Reggae artist.

Art Galleries & Craft Shops In Anguilla

1. Devonish Art Gallery- view bead jewelry by wife Carrolle Devonish; ceramics, wood sculptures and wood craft by Internationally known artist Courtney Devonish who is celebrating 50 years as CEO, 18 years in Barbados and 20 in Anguilla. The gallery is situated in the Cove West End.

2. Anguilla Art & Crafts, -The National Council Of Women runs this establishment where local artist and craft persons can market their work. The council is responsible for my moving to Barbados; I came via a Canadian Training Awards Project to teach ceramics and set up a studio at the council, which is located in the Valley

Lynn Bernbaum Gallery is situated in Sandy ground, a busy area for its bars and restaurants and entertainment. It is also the location of the main cargo port and docking for sailboats. Lynn is a painter from the USA, now residing in Anguilla.

Cheddies Carving Studio.-Cheddie is a very gifted local wood carver with an incredible eye for creations from drift wood. The studio is directly opposite the Galleria and the Devonish Art Gallery, which are located in the same building.

There are a few other locations on the Island featuring Haitian, local and international arts and crafts.

i Can teach Anybody Can Be A Ceramic Artist-

how to produce ceramics from day 1

Background

During the eighties I worked for the Canadian Training Awards Project (CTAP) as a ceramic consultant; traveling around the Eastern Caribbean researching clay deposits, sourcing ceramic supplies and training students in ceramic production.
The training was designed to start earning from day one; most of the students were women of all ages and from different backgrounds; but I always insisted on including a selection of school children in the classes.

The first stage of training on the wheel was designed towards earning also; but in this post I will use the Slab Roller only.

 

Commercial Production

SPACE-a small workshop; 150 to 300 square feet is adequate or a small basement.

Equipment

1 Slab roller; my preference is a Brent, the size depends on how much production you are contemplating.

1 Small Test Kiln-Electric for easy management, or natural gas if it is available; allows more creative and exciting finished pieces; but requires more ceramic knowledge and experience.

1 production Kiln; start with a 2 to 4 cubic feet.

Make sure your kiln comes with a set of kiln furniture

Orton Cones

Earthenware– cones 04 and 05 cones,

Stone ware -04 for bisque firing and cones 5 or 6 depending on your clay supply.

Clay- My preference for beginners is white cone 04; especially if you live in a third world country where the cost of electricity is high.

Kilns & Firing temperatures.

Electric-If you live in an area where the cost of electricity is not so high, and you wish to offer finished pieces at stoneware temperature; you can find low stoneware Clay at cone 5 or 6; but you will need 04 also for bisque firings.

Gas-If you have access to natural gas and is prepared to learn as much as possible about using a gas kiln before commencing production.

Local clay supply-If you can dig your own clay, that is fine, but learn how to eliminate the impurities; frankly unless it is a great source and fairly clean, and is willing to spend the time in preparation; it might be more convenient to purchase a commercial supply.

GLAZES

Start with a small collection of glazes and stains.

Stains-black, brown, green, blue and yellow-06 to 04

Glazes-05 Ready mixed -transparent; opaque white, blue, leaf green, mid brown, turquoise and yellow.

1 Set of brushes and small plastic bottles for pouring from your ceramic supplier.

2 to 4 small sponges

I plastic bin for scrap clay

This training is geared towards creating a brand of commercial production that can be marketed from day one if you follow instructions carefully.

BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT

There are several ceramic suppliers in Europe, Canada and the USA; of course England is known for its ceramics; in the early seventies I bought all my supplies from England, but over the years it became more cost effective to purchase from Canada or the USA.

Suppliers I was happy with are Tuckers Pottery Supplies out of Canada, and Amaco or Brent out of the USA.

You can Google Ceramic suppliers and see who are your nearest and most affordable suppliers.

There are several books on hand building and ceramics for beginners.

You should purchase at least one of each. If you are going the route of a gas kiln, look up how to fire a gas kiln and acquire a publication.

Remember also everything is on the Internet these days, just Google your question and search for appropriate answers.

In my next post I will be offering instructions for your first commercial production.

If you would like to start production and create a hobby and earn some extra cash, start sourcing your supplies, anyone can be a ceramic artist. I have never met anyone I couldn’t train.

The Island Is looking so much better, electricity has been restored, street lights are being replaced, and the streets are looking good as there is a new arrangement that takes many garbage bins off the streets.

However most of the major hotels are still under repairs and the first should open towards month end; but most boutique hotels and some villas are open for business.

Sadly there are few tourists around, as a consequence the gallery hours has been adjusted to 9am to1 pm. I will be happy to open on request.

I have also held trunk shows on request in the past; please note that Anguillians do not normally mob celebrities; It was once rumored that a famous celebrity was in a local bar and was upset that no one was paying her any attention that she got up and performed a table dance.

The gallery will accommodate trunk shows on request or facilitate private openings after regular hours. Telephone No- 1 264 235 5109.

devonshart.com is open for business 24/7

Carrolle and I will like to thank all those online customers and friends who patronized the gallery during this difficult period.

NO1 $950.00
I must apologize for my absence from the website for the past month and a half; Anguilla was devastated by hurricane Irma and I am still without electricity and normal Interne.

I am therefore unable to carve wood but I have been creating some ceramics using the slab roller; of course I am unable to complete them due to us having no electricity.

I wish I had a woodburning kiln because of the amount of wood lying around from the 200 fallen utilities poles and the number of giant tamarind, grape and other trees that were uprooted by the hurricane.

However I am alive and well and the Art Gallery suffered no damage, we lost one ceramic relief hanging that fell off the wall,there was earthquake like shaking during Irma.

We don’t expect regular electricity back for at least another month, but I hope to install a generator this week which will allow me to carve but not operate my electric kiln.

Some friends and customers has asked how they can help because of the hurricane, the Gallery does not expect to resume regular business for at least another three months;we will appreciate your help by purchasing from the website to help us through this disaster.
Manny thanks.
Courtney & Carrole.