There was a spectacular display of Amerindian arts, craft and culture at the Sophia Exhibition Centre in celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month, which showcases the vast potential of Guyana’s indigenous peoples.
At the exhibition, which ran from September 2 to 5, an array of colourful slippers, baskets and fashion accessories made from tibisiri were on display. Women’s groups from Morokabai, Leguan, Pomeroon, Santa Mission, St. Cuthbert’s Mission and other Amerindian villages showcased their craft products.
St. Cuthbert’s Mission group display their craft
Stoll and his handmade walking sticks
Guyana Times Sunday Magazine interviewed some of the exhibitors who expressed concerns with getting markets for their products. Veteran artist Valentine Stoll, who exhibited his newest pieces at the event, said there is an urgent need for a permanent centre where all crafts and artwork can be exhibited all year not just in September. Stoll speaks from years of experience, having exhibited in various Caribbean countries.
Stoll said he was cborn and grew in Moruca but currently resides in Suddie, Essequibo. His ability to sculpt masterpieces earns him accolades locally and regionally. “Sculpting for me started as a hobby since from my childhood days. I would observe how the animals interact, man interact with nature and so on. I’m inspired by everyday interaction. I’m self-taught. I envision what I want to do and bring that to life. We, the Amerindian artists and craft manufacturers, really need a permanent exhibition centre to market our work – especially to tourists. We have the creativity but we need the opportunity to market our work. We need more support for our art all year, not just September,” urged Stoll.
Another veteran, Oswald Hussein, who also exhibited his newest sculptures, shared Stoll’s sentiments and said he hopes the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs can hear their cry for help in finding more market for their work.
Dahanah Adrian from Morokabai Women’s Group, also agrees that there is an urgent need for more markets for their products. “We have good knowledge of our work but we need more markets and we can do much more than what we have displayed at the exhibition. We have 54 persons in our group. We have the will to produce but we need the markets. We don’t only use tibisiri; we work with other materials too to produce quality work. The men in our village also can go good carving work. We’re still not being given opportunities we should be getting. We need a permanent craft centre so we can market our products all the time,” she disclosed.
Additionally, for this year’s heritage month, there is the revised edition of ‘Pages in Guyanese Prehistory’ available for purchase at the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology. According to director of the museum, Jennifer Wishart, who edited this edition, the book is ideal for all students who are studying Guyana’s prehistoric period. There is also a selected annotated bibliography for further readings.
Activities for the remainder of the Amerindian Heritage Month include an exhibition and symposium on the life of Stephen Campbell, on September 10 at the Umana Yana; a sports and family fun day on September 15 and 16 at the Carifesta Sports Complex; a “heritage walk” on September 23; “mural painting” on the Kitty seawall on September 22 and 23, and a September 28 dinner at Regency Suites.