Smith & Benjamin’s
Issue No. 311

Sharing Art & Cultural News
of The Bahamas for 17 Years

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CLICK HERE to see online version.

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A Junkanoo-inspired piece from the “Junkanoo: Bahamian Opulence”
Collection created by Bahamian apparel designer Theodore Elyett.
The Collection was revealed for the first time in Beijing, China this past week.
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Read story below.


Thursday, June 1, 2017


what’s happening in
bahamian art & culture


42nd Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association

Jun 5–10, 2017
Melía Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas

In an address to the 26th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (February 2015) former Jamaican Prime-Minister, The Most Honorable P.J. Patterson insisted on the “urgent need (for CARICOM member states) to find new development pathways that encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth and development.” While the Caribbean region has come a long way (using UNDP Millennium Development Goals as a benchmark) the region continues to fall short in economic growth, competitiveness, economic diversity and impact, and human capital output. Patterson’s evocation of “creativity and innovation” implicitly acknowledges the continuing absence of Caribbean knowledge, culture and economy in debates surrounding the future of regional development.

The 2017 conference theme—Culture and Knowledge Economies: The Future of Caribbean Development?—focuses on the shifting roles of knowledge, culture and economy in the Caribbean while repositioning the question of “development” historically and in our contemporary moment.

CLICK HERE for full details on Conference.


After School Music and Art Classes Studios: Designs in Nature

Tuesday, June 6th
5:30pm to 8:30pm
Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery

Veteran art educator and master artist Sue Bennett-Williams presents her After School Music and Art Classes (ASMAC) Studios’ 24th Annual Art Exhibition entitled “Designs in Nature” at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.

Artists range in ages from 6 to 18 years old. Art work on the invitation is by 15 year old, Tamera Cambridge, who has been a student in the ASMAC programme since she was 6 years old in the Monday class.

CLICK HERE for ASMAC’s Facebook page.


Central Bank Art Competitions Applications Open

Submission Deadlines:

Open Category:
Wed, Sep. 20th at 5pm.

High School Category:
Wed, Oct. 18th at 5pm.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas is pleased to announce that application forms for its 34th Annual Art Competition and Exhibition for the High School and Open Category competitions are now available online and within the gallery.

The theme this year for both the High School and Open categories is: “Historic Changing Moments”. All submissions are expected to include an artist’s statement about the content and context of the work. Works submitted must fall into one of the following mediums: Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, Print, Collage, and other pictorial presentation.

The deadlines for submission of applications are as follows:
Open Category: Wednesday, September 20th, at 5:00 pm.
High School Category: Wednesday, October 18th, at 5:00 pm.

CLICK HERE for full details and to download applications.


art & culture news
from the bahamas


Model Ashley Hamilton.

From Bahamas
to Beijing

Award-Winning Bahamian designer Theodore Elyett wows with Junkanoo-themed fashion collection in Asia

More than 300 spectators sat expectantly in the Grand Ballroom of the world famous Kerry Hotel in Beijing, China. Every eye glued to the runway, award-winning Bahamian designer Theodore Elyett, a fashion maestro, brilliantly translated the magic and splendor of Junkanoo into a 10-piece avant garde collection themed, “Junkanoo: Bahamian Opulence” for a crowd of diplomats, business executives, fashion and film industry consultants and Bahamians studying in China.

Elyett was invited to participate in The Cultural Fashion Event organized by Ellen Barron, a noted Chinese designer and the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in Beijing. The dual fashion showcase held Friday May 26th, 2017 was designed to highlight the beauty of Asian and Bahamian culture through fashion.


Model Erika Adderley


NYC-based model Kamela Forbes.


Model Erika Adderley.


Model Shanae Strachan.


Theodore Elyett and Ellen Barron, noted Chinese designer.

“I was introduced to Theodore’s work by The Bahamas Embassy here in China,” stated Barron. “After viewing his portfolio, I knew that our design aesthetic would be a great match, so I invited him to be a guest designer in the fashion showcase.”

Five Bahamian models strutted each piece of Elyett’s 10-piece wearable art collection down the runway. Oversized fringe silhouettes reminiscent of the fringe style popular in junkanoo costumes of the 1970’s were juxtaposed with bursts of colorful textiles. Embellished with jewels and touches of opulent ostrich feathers, the junkanoo-themed collection was punctuated with iconic Bahamian hits including “Funky Nassau” and “Goombay Medley” performed live by Bahamian entertainer Fred Munnings Jr. The ensemble rocked the house and brought the crowd to life as they witnessed Elyett’s first showcase in Asia in his 20-year career.

“When I received the invitation from Ambassador Gomez and Ellen Barron to showcase in China, I knew immediately that I wanted to present a collection which highlighted our rich culture,” stated Elyett. “During my research I fell in love with the aesthetic of old junkanoo and immediately got to work. I wanted to show that Junkanoo could also be wearable and beautiful when translated into garments.” [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at The Bahamas Weekly.


Models L-R - Shanae Strachan, Ashley Hamilton, Kamela Forbes, Erika Adderley and Tomii Culmer.

NAGB Mural

NAGB Mural Call: Tellin’ We Story

June 16th, 2017

The Mixed Media Summer Art Camp (MMSAC) is looking for two artists to conceive a mural on public and NAGB walls along with MMSAC campers. Not only will you make amazing art, you will facilitate an amazing experience for young Bahamians. The theme is ‘Tellin’ We Story: Narrating National Identity’.

Narrating national identity; these murals call for imagery derived from the cultural tradition of storytelling in The Bahamas. Once a vibrant tradition, storytelling served as a unifier in communities and as a validation of Bahamian cultural identity. Beyond The Bahamas, storytelling held a high place in many cultures, particularly in the African diaspora, the inspiration for many Bahamian tales, and even served as a means of sustaining the histories and lineages of entire ethnicities.

CLICK HERE for full information on Mural Call.


From the National Art Collection:
Blue Curry’s “Nassau From Above”

by Natascha Vazquez


“Nassau From Above” (2004), Blue Curry, alternative photography, 24 x 30. Part of the National Collection, acquired from the 2nd National Exhibition.

Many contemporary art works today involve the use of both text and imagery within one composition. The combination of both provides two means for communication: offering a more unified surface for interpretation and, perhaps, raising more questions regarding the content of the work. The use of both text and imagery demonstrates the artist’s ability to blend the boundary between commercial and fine art, creating parallels and adding another layer of complexity to potential interpretations. The text responds to the doctrines of traditional fine art, and questions the way in which it can exist.

A sense of gloom surrounds Nassau from Above through Blue Curry’s use of black-and-white collage-styled imagery, paired with the words “Doesn’t it all look so peaceful… from up here.” We are slapped with sarcasm as these words overlay an image of Nassau seen from above through an airplane window. The aesthetic of this work is reminiscent of Barbara Kruger, an American artist best known for laying aggressively directive slogans over black-and-white photographs. Her work critiques consumerism and desire, as well as challenges viewers conceptions of power and control. Here, Curry deliberately critiques the way in which we distribute power, and how we navigate around reality to portray a mislead sense of utopia. [...]

CLICK HERE for full essay at the NAGB website.

Lavar Munroe The Migrant

“The Migrant” (2008), Lavar Munroe, digital print, 32 x 20. Part of the National Collection, acquired from the 4th National Exhibition.

From the National Art Collection: Lavar Munroe’s “The Migrant”

Bahamian artist Lavar Munroe deconstructs “The Migrant”.

by Natalie Willis

Lavar Munroe’s “The Migrant” is an illustrative portrayal of a spindle-legged, knock-kneed nomad carrying his home on his back. In many ways, the tale this digital print tells of the ubiquitous image of the immigrant is reminiscent of the Phil Stubbs classic song, ‘Cry of the Potcake.” The xenophobia and self-hate we deal with as a nation is quite easily summated in the lyrics of the catchy tune, “they don’t love me, they only know me when they need me,” and Munroe’s look at the struggle of the emigrant bolsters this when we think of our history as forced immigrants. For instance, can we image our Bahamas without teachers, nurses and doctors from elsewhere in the region working alongside those we consider to be ‘born’ Bahamians?

Growing up in Grants Town, Lavar Munroe is no stranger to what this particular side of immigration in The Bahamas looks like and by this work’s exclusion of the expat immigrant, it helps to emphasize the kind of migrant pictured. Since, when it boils down to it, regardless of where you come from, in truth anyone who moves here is an immigrant, but the connotations of the word are what make things sticky. We have very particular images in mind when we think of ‘immigrants’ and when we think of ‘expatriates,’ and we know the power structures and history in which this difference in terminology is rooted. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at the NAGB.


Photo of Father Jerome from “Between Devotion & Design” by John J. Taylor.

The Hermit of Cat Island,
Part One

A visit to Mount Alvernia on Cat Island allows Sir Christopher Ondaatje to examine and appreciate the extraordinary life of a reclusive Franciscan priest.

by Sir Christopher Ondaatje

“People here have no idea how prolific Father Jerome was and the extent of his work in other countries. He introduced the concept of masonry vaulting with a keyed arch into these islands. A key characteristic of his work was to build in stone with buttressed walls. This architectural language in The Bahamas is unique” – Orjan Lindroth.

I doubt if I would ever have visited Cat Island if I had not been given the assignment to do a short biography of the reclusive Franciscan priest who built and rebuilt Providence, before building his own Mount Alvernia Hermitage.

Cat Island, officially known as “San Salvador” before it received its present name by an Act of Parliament in 1926, is almost certainly where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492. It is in the central Bahamas and is rumoured to be named after the pirate Arthur Cat, who used it as his headquarters in the 1600s, with other privateers and pirates, as a hiding place to prey on unsuspecting vessels sailing past on their way to the Old World. In 1783, Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution established a permanent settlement on the island, taking advantage of the fertile soil.

Cat Island is a fishhook-shaped island, 48 miles long and four miles wide at its widest point. Near the Tropic of Cancer, the island is located between Eleuthera and Long Island and is 130 miles southeast of New Providence. Cotton plantation ruins lie scattered around and remains of slave huts [...]

CLICK HERE for full article on Pg 22 in The Tribune Weekend.


A tiny local snack spot, open door policy in a small town, once vibrant. (All images courtesy of Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett.)

Cultural development and investment

The recognition of our cultural heritage

by Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett

Cultural heritage, shockingly, is actually not unique to or owned by a people unless it is inscribed as such. So, as a nation, we think we are the sole practitioners of Junkanoo the way we perform it on Boxing Day morning and New Year's Day morning, however, this unique cultural relationship does not endow us, The Bahamas or the Bahamian people with the right to use Junkanoo as we wish. We do not own the practice nor do we benefit from it, despite the fact that whenever we are invited as a country to an arts or culture festival we tend to drag an entire Junkanoo group with us. The nation and the state have been historically irresponsible when it comes to officially claiming and so protecting our cultural heritage.

A lesson learnt
Trinidad is renowned for creating steelpan, which has its own festival, “Panorama” around Carnival time and may also be incorporated into Carnival groups. Be that as it may, because Trinidad was slow on the uptake when it saw the time come to protect steelpan, it does not own it or the rights to it. That means that Trinidad, although the indigenous home of the steelpan, is neither legally identified as the creator of the instrument, nor can it trade on its fame or fortune. [...]

CLICK HERE for full text at the NAGB website.


Are the waters off Bimini the site of the fabled lost city of Atlantis?

Bimini –
a lost continent?

Forgotten Facts

by Paul Aranha

The ‘discovery’ of the so called Bimini Wall, about 50 years ago, reignited interest in the Bermuda Triangle, though I can’t image why the two should be linked. In fact, I don’t believe there is anything sinister about three invisible lines linking Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico.

In more than 60 years of flying, most of it within that ‘mysterious’ triangle, I have noticed nothing strange. I do believe in the existence of the Bimini Wall and one other underwater ‘structure’, both easily seen from the air, but I do not accept that the wall was made by man.

Near the northern end of Andros, in very shallow water, there is a roughly 50ft x 100ft rectangular structure, with two rectangular ‘room’, that appears to be manmade. Because the corners of the main walls, as well as the walls of the rooms, are near-perfect right-angles, I find it hard to believe that it was built in the sea, perhaps to hold live turtles. It looks like it had to be built when that part of Andros was dry land. At least one writer refers to it as the ‘Andros temple’ and compares it with the layout of some Mayan ruins. [...]

CLICK HERE to read full story on Pg 25 in The Tribune Weekend.


art from the region
and beyond


Detail of one of Ové’s Moko Jumbie figures

British Museum permanently installs first Caribbean art commission

Zak Ové’s Moko Jumbie sculptures now stand in the Africa Galleries.

by Anny Shaw

The responsibility of being the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum (BM) is weighing heavily on Zak Ové. “Imagine representing the whole of the Caribbean in one moment?” he asks. “I have to get this right, otherwise I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Ové was speaking at the unveiling of his Moko Jumbie sculptures in the BM’s Africa Galleries on 30 March. The towering figures were installed in the museum’s Great Court in 2015 and have now become part of the permanent collection, displayed opposite a cabinet of masks made by, among others, the Yoruba and Igbo people of Nigeria, the Songye, Pende and Lega of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Bamileke of Cameroon.

“It’s a homecoming. [My sculptures] are the children returning to their parents,” says Ové, who was born in London to an Irish mother and Trinidadian father. [...]

CLICK HERE for full story at The Art Newspaper.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture – Smithsonian (photo courtesy of the Smithsonian)

Two nooses discovered at Smithsonian Museums this week

“Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,” said Founding Director Lonnie Bunch.

by Claire Voon

A noose was found today inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC, hanging at an exhibition exploring segregation in America. It’s the second time the racist symbol has appeared on the grounds of a Smithsonian institution in less than a week, following a security officer’s discovery of a noose hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum this past Friday evening.

At NMAAHC, which only opened last September, a tourist had found the rope lying in a gallery hosting the exhibit, Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876–1968. As Buzzfeed first reported, the finding prompted museum staff to close the gallery for an hour as police arrived to remove the noose. As with the situation at the Hirshhorn, officials have not yet identified any suspects, and criminal investigations are currently underway. [...]

CLICK HERE for full story at Hyperallergic.


'I hope this project also produces seeds of hope for Syria,' Arsheed says [Marta Bellingreri /Al Jazeera]

A Syrian violinist’s journey ‘from brutality to hope’

Alaa Arsheed and his musical partner plan to compose new songs while travelling along the Balkans refugee route.

byMarta Bellingreri

Syrian violinist and composer Alaa Arsheed plays the violin with his eyes closed, following the rhythm and moving slightly to the notes. When he reopens them, he smiles widely at his friend and fellow composer, Isaac de Martin, who smiles back at him.

Music is their passion, and they aim to use it to send a message of peace. After being invited to perform with their band, the Adovabadan Jazz Orchestra, at a journalism festival in Italy last month, the duo opted to launch a crowdfunding campaign to play their music along a route well-travelled by Syrian refugees.

“The idea is that of a music tour by camper through the Balkans, driving from Italy to Greece, walking [along] the refugees’ route, meeting artists and recording an album, as well as providing music sessions and workshops for refugees,” Arsheed, a Syrian refugee who has lived in Italy since 2015, told Al Jazeera. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Aljazeera.

Sony ROllins


Center for Black Culture Research acquires archive of jazz great Sonny Rollins

by Robin Scher

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the New York Public Library, announced today the acquisition of a personal archive spanning the 60-year long career of American tenor saxophonist and jazz icon Sonny Rollins. The collection will be housed within the Center’s moving-image and recorded-sound division in Harlem.

The archive offers an intimate glimpse into Rollins’s professional and personal life. Highlights from this “robust collection” of material include recordings of “unheard music and practice sessions,” Rollins’ photographs from his travels abroad, and annotated sheet music as well as other personal writings such as letters that Rollins sent to his wife and partner of over 45 years, Lucille Pearson Rollins. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Art News.




about us


Smith & Benjamin’s Bahamian Art & Culture eMagazine

Art & Culture were
created to uplift the
spirit of mankind.

Bahamian Art & Culture eMagazine
is an email magazine concentrating on the
art & culture of The Bahamas and the world around us. It is published once a week and is a service of Smith & Benjamin Art & Design, a design firm based in Nassau,
The Bahamas offering graphic design,
custom illustration, fine art, art marketing,
art brokerage and publishing.

Dionne Benjamin-Smith, Editor & Publisher:
Stephanie Shivers, Account & Office Manager:

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