E. Clement Bethel National Arts Exhibition showcases national talent: Fostering Future Artists

By Katrina Cartwright

On Wednesday, September 27th at 7:30pm in the Crown Ballroom, Atlantis the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, under the auspices of the Organizing Committee of the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival (ECBNAF) was pleased to showcase the talent of Bahamians and residents from all over The Bahamas who participated in this year’s festival. Awards and honours were granted in art and craft, dance, drama and music. An art exhibition displaying select entries from primary and secondary schools was on view in the lobby and winners in the performing arts categories proudly performed their entries for a rapt audience that included parents, teachers and students.

This year the National Arts Festival Committee engaged the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) to assist in the adjudication process for the Arts and Crafts section and curate the final exhibition. Through their hard they were able to compile a body of work that represents amateur artists and crafts people from the most southern islands in The Bahamas to the most northern. It has been an exciting journey for participants and they are commended for their hard work.

E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival Art and Craft Exhibition at Atlantis

Now in its 58th year, the National Arts Festival aims to promote art and craft as

an indispensable vehicle to record and transmit Bahamian cultural values, and develop and preserve unique Bahamian traditions and creative expressions. It encourages experimentation with different visual art forms and media and seeks to inspire originality and the inculcation of sound design principles and strong craftsmanship. Through the judging process and the culminating exhibition, participants were given a platform to engage in critical dialogue about their work and develop stronger technical skills to more effectively express themselves. 

There was no specific theme for the exhibition and participants were free to choose any visual arts media to convey their ideas. However, works entered were expected to reflect the Bahamian cultural heritage (through imagery and ideas that included religion, social and economic aspects, the creative arts (music, dance and drama), Junkanoo, sports, and our natural and man-made environments. The works entered aptly fulfilled this criteria and the winning entry for the Art and Craft division, a Junkanoo shoulder piece and headdress made by Sharvez Woodside, who recently graduated from North Andros High and is now enrolled at the University of The Bahamas, demonstrated how found material can be used in creative and fun ways.

Junkanoo Shoulder Piece and Headdress by Sharvez Woodside

The ECBNAF is the only festival in The Bahamas that provides a platform for Bahamians and residents of all ages to showcase their artistic talents. By the end of the ceremony everyone is attendance had engaged in all four of the major art disciplines (visual art, dance, drama and music), an experience that is generally uncommon but certainly fulfilling. The NAGB was pleased to join the team of the ECBNAF committee this year and looks forward to 2018’s National Arts Festival.