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Turks and Caicos Islands / Special Interests / Art & Artisans

By Jane Anderson

The Turks & Caicos Islands have a healthy arts and artisan scene which really falls into two categories, the traditional and the contemporary.

Native handicrafts tend to reflect the farming/fishing lifestyle of the Caicos Islands and each has a practical use. This includes plaited straw work from silvertop and whitetop palms, carefully crafted into bags and sturdy hats to shade the sun. Nets were woven for catching fish and turtle. Beautiful baskets are made from the graceful grasses growing along shores and marshes. Mosquito brushes kept bugs away and brooms and brushes were used to keep the yard clean. The dense lignum vitae wood was used to make a mallet like tool used to tenderise conch. Today these items are a source of income for many local women.

Then there’s the more contemporary, mainstream side to Turks & Caicos art with painters and jewellery makers. Some is influenced by Haitian art and artists who have immigrated to the country. There is a good range of local art spanning paintings, drawings, wood carvings, glass and ceramic art and metal sculpture, displayed across galleries in Provo and Grand Turk. Photographer Sherlin Williams is keeping Turks & Caicos up to date with digital art with his fabulous photographs made on screen from dozens to hundreds of individual photos. Like a digital collage of island scenes.

Art galleries and craft markets include:

Providenciales

Alverna’s Craft Market, Grace Bay - Great little market selling colourful metal wall hangings recycled from oil barrels. Fabulous fish, crabs, turtles, iguanas, palm trees and stars. Fun, affordable souvenirs.

Anna’s Art Gallery, Saltmills - Anna Bourne’s treasure trove gallery features her own bold silk paintings, work by other local arts and many other crafts from jewellery to soap. Anna is also a local singer.

Art Provo, Grace Bay - Attractive gallery selling work by over 20 local artists including Dwight Outten and Laura Lancaster. Jewellery and glass blowing by Heather Forbes. Proprietor, Mary O’Neill, is usually in the gallery and a great guide to local art.

Making Waves, Grace Bay - Sara Alexandra Skye’s studio is packed full of her oil paintings, drawings, photos and postcards, all evocative of Turks & Caicos such as large sand dollars and islands from the air. She also offers painting and silk screen printing classes.

Paradise Arts, Saltmills - Locally made ceramic pottery, wall art and tiles, watercolours, prints and photography.

Turks & Caicos National Trust Shop, Grace Bay - This non profit organisation promotes local crafts. Shop for tasteful hats and baskets woven from straw and Fanner grass, dolls in national dress and colourful pottery.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk Diving shop - Local handmade Sea Glass Jewellery by Chris Davis-James.

Turks & Caicos National Museum Shop - Sea glass jewellery, Salt Cay Salt Works salts, Middle Caicos Co Op basket work.

Salt Cay

Beachcombers - In a room at the back of his beautiful home overlooking the salinas, Douglas Gordon sells art made of found objects. Mostly ocean themed, he has created driftwood lamps, shell encrusted cabinets and wonderful Joseph Cornell-like boxes stuffed full of curios.

Salt Cay Salt Works - Haidee Williams (wife of Porter) has started up Salt Cay Salt Works at Porter’s Island Thyme in celebration of the island’s heritage as a hub of the salt industry until the 1960s. She sells culinary salts in many flavours, zesty drink salts, fleur de sel in large recycled rum bottles. She employs 6 local ladies. Porter also has Haitian art work for sale and local jewellery.

North Caicos

The Little Craft Shop - By the side of the road just before you come to the causeway leaving North Caicos for Middle Caicos, Curalena Phillips has a stall of her handmade woven baskets decorated with delicate seafans and the double ‘Kadores’ dollies that her grandma taught her how to make. You can also buy tickets to Readymoney Gardens here.

Middle Caicos

Middle Caicos Co-op - Great non-profit co-operative shop championing the cause of around 60 local artisans with a good range of high quality handicrafts for sale including woven hats, bowls, table mats, handbags and beach bags, conch bruisers and cut and polished conch shells. Visitors can also see the model boats here which are raced in the Valentine’s Day Cup.

Non-profit organisations and Government links:
Turks and Caicos Friends of the Arts (www.tcfaf.wordpress.com) encourages performance and visual arts.

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Looking for inspiration?

  1. Chill out on 12-mile Grace Bay Beach with its many watersports
  2. Explore the mangroves by kayak and meet the rock ignuanas at Little Water Cay
  3. Check out the Turks & Caicos National Trust’s sites including Wade’s Green Plantation on North Caico
  4. Eat fresh conch salad at Da Conch Shack, Blue Hills
  5. Step back in time at Salt Cay with its historic Salinas, top dive sites and whale watching (February to April)

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