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Deadline closes tomorrow for free Basketry workshops

todayMarch 9, 2023 183 1

C’ Coat & Pandanus baskets

The deadline to register for the National Cultural Foundation’s International Masterclass in Traditional Basketry workshop is tomorrow.

The masterclasses will introduce Barbadian basketmakers and weavers to the traditions and innovations of two master craftspersons; Gail Wright, a master sweet-grass basketmaker from the Gullah-Geechee tradition of South Carolina, and our very own Ireka Jelani.

The free workshops, which will be held at Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village, start on Monday, March 20 and end Friday, March 31. The deadline for registration is tomorrow, Friday, March 10.

Participants of the masterclasses will be reintroduced to traditions of harvesting, preparing and weaving easily available materials in Barbados; many of which skills are at risk of being lost to a new generation by their lack of practice. The similarities between Barbados’ and Carolina’s basketry will also be explored.

The major local fibres currently used by Barbadian basketmakers are: the leaves of the pandanus shrub, the shed spathes of the royal cabbage palm, the gully whisk vine and khus khus grass.

Dung baskets, Barbados

Chief Cultural Officer at the NCF Andrea Wells explained that the workshops are a great way of preserving the cultural tradition of basketmaking.

“Participants will also get to experience first-hand, samples of sweet-grass baskets and specialised tools used in that tradition. Explorations of other available, though under-utilised fibres will also be included along with local natural dye sources.

“They will be encouraged to create new forms using traditional techniques as well as experiment with other locally available raw materials in new ways. The works produced by participants will be on display on the last day of the course,” she said.

NCF Chief Cultural Officer Andrea Wells

Jelani is one of the island’s better known basketmakers with many years of work in the local industry. She has benefitted from training in basketry in Ghana, in art and design locally at the Barbados Community College and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Cultural Studies at UWI, Cave Hill. She is best known for her innovative use of the khus khus grass in her basketry. She is also a second generation Barbadian basket maker.

Ireka Jelani

Gail Wright is a seventh generation sweetgrass basketmaker from, South Carolina. Her family continues to pass down the basket weaving tradition in order to give more people a better understanding of the history behind the handmade craft. She has recently visited East Africa on a research trip on basketry traditions and will be an invaluable contributor to the workshops.

Gail Wright

Persons interested should contact the coordinating tutor, Ireka Jelani at or producer Andrea Wells at or 417-6657. (PR)

Written by: Info NCF

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The National Cultural Foundation
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St. James, Barbados