Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley (left) presenting the UNESCO award to Roslyn Watson while her son Russell Watson looks on.(A.Gaskin/BGIS)

The creative and cultural industries sector will emerge as one of the key pillars of economic diversification in Barbados.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion today as he presented Barbadian artist and designer, Roslyn Watson, with the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts at his ministry’s headquarters in Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.

Ms. Watson was singled out for her Coconut Frond Place Mats, which were exhibited in a competition organised by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean Handicraft manufacturers.?? The exhibition took place in July 2012 in Jamaica.??

The Culture Minister congratulated Ms. Watson for being given this very prestigious UNESCO award and described the accomplishment as "a phenomenal achievement".

Stressing that it was critical that a Barbadian was the first recipient of the sub-regional award, he described it as a "significant movement forward in the area of handicraft".??

He added: "This is a particularly important part of our forward thrust in relation to the development of the cultural industries in Barbados.?? So, when one of our very own has been able to take the giant stride out and secure such an award, it augurs well for our future development."

Emphasising that UNESCO has recognised that "this authentic Barbadian work is worthy of international acclaim", he said the award confirmed that Ms. Watson’s work is the "epitome of excellence".

He further observed that such recognition would give Barbados and the artisan an international stage and competitive edge, since she now has the opportunity to display her work regionally and internationally at such trade fairs as the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in the United States, the Paris Fair, and the Madison and Objet Trade Fair, both in France.

"The award gives her the opportunity to exhibit her talent in some of the major markets of the world… and what that does for Barbados is give us that marketing edge that no other medium can because it is now being backed by the strength and significance usually associated with UNESCO," the Culture Minister underscored.

However, Mr. Lashley lamented that many Barbadians saw the creative industries only within the "context as to what could be done in Barbados" and reasoned that many people do not understand how far handicraft could go.

Russell Watson, in accepting the award on behalf of his mother, thanked the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and the National Cultural Foundation for their support.?? He said his mother’s work was "the pairing of a purely aesthetic and a purely functional approach to art".

He outlined that the winning place mats were made from coconut rib – the spine of the coconut leaf – which are woven together using various patterns.?? He added that his mother also made window blinds, lamp shades and wall hangings from the natural material.


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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