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Barbados 45 Years of NIFCA

GUEST BLOGGER: MICHELLE DOYLE 

PHOTO: Nick Whittle,  "Middle Passage" Winner of Gold Award

The Tradition of Excellence Continues...

November is an extremely special month for Barbadians at home and the diaspora. It is the time where Barbadians, affectionately known as ‘Bajans’ get to celebrate their Independence and uniqueness.  NIFCA, the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts formed in 1973, is an annual festival organized by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). It shapes Barbados' cultural personality through promoting activities which come together to form the essence of the festival. With Barbadian culture on display, generations of Bajans get to see and hear themselves and preserve their culture.

NIFCA has many disciplines: dance, drama & speech, fine arts, literary arts, music, culinary arts, craft, photography and film. With changing times, artists are encouraged to look at the innovations in the world, but still tell the story of who they are and what makes them unique as Barbadian people.

Michelle Doyle, Marketing and Communications Lead for yiga! managed to catch a moment with Rodney Ifill, Cultural Officer – Visual Arts during the exhibition preview of the Visual Arts, Craft and Photography Exhibitions, entitled ‘Evening of the Arts’, last week.

Who can submit their artwork to be part of NIFCA? Entries are submitted from school children, adults, community groups, church organizations, as well as penal institution, Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Dodds, where the role of the arts has been heightened in an effort to assist in their process of rehabilitation.

What do they compete for? Participants compete for special prizes, scholarships and certificate awards of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Special Awards of Achievement. These certificate awards are signed by the sitting Prime Minister of Barbados. Top amateur awards named after local cultural icons and, more recently, awards for entries by professionals, the highest being the Governor General’s Award of Excellence are highly sought after.

I know various genres have been added to NIFCA since its inception, how long has visual arts been part of NIFCA? Visual arts exhibitions have existed since NIFCA was conceptualized. The exhibitions are usually the largest and most diverse on the island during November and celebrates the creative excellence of Barbadians in their respective genres.

Having seen some of the exhibits today, I may need at least two more visits to really see everything. How many exhibits are there in total? The exhibition is very diverse and vibrant. It features 517 exhibits in the fine art and handicraft components, with 70 photographs from juniors and adults in photography.

You are not alone and I understand, but we have to showcase the amazing pieces entered. We get repeat visitors who view certain sections on different days as the exhibition is vast.  Audience participation is encouraged and each visitor is given a slip to nominate their favourite exhibit.

Can visitors purchase any piece they wish? Some pieces are priced, however, the respective artists may need to be contacted directly. The work of the inmates of HMP Dodds presents a particular Barbadian aesthetic which is unique to their expression and features reasonably priced high quality work.

For those unable to visit, can you give an overview of some of the awarded pieces?

In the professional category, Nick Whittle awarded a Gold was also nominated for the Prime Minister's Award for the best Original NIFCA Entry with his contemporary piece entitled 'Middle Passage." 

Khary Darby's piece "Apparition", has been awarded gold in the professional fine art category.

Outstanding winners in the Adult Professional Handicraft category include:

  • Roger Williams for his piece entitled "Train on East Coast",
  • Dave Dowirch, gold award winner and winner of the Ivan Payne Awards of Excellence,
  • Rudi Yearwood, winner of the Karl Broodhagen Award of Excellence.

In the Amateur category, Ryan Alleyne, a consistent gold award winner has also received the Marjorie Blackman's Award of Excellence for his piece entitled "Small Business."

Young and talented junior Shalissa Greenidge won the HIV/AIDS Award for her Gold award piece entitled "Trade" and has been nominated for the Prime Minister's Scholarship valued at $35 000 BDS dollars. This scholarship, across all disciplines of NIFCA and can assist with academic studies at regional Caribbean institutions such as the Edna Manley school of Art in Jamaica.

The Alexandra and Lester Vaughan secondary schools have received special awards for their collection of fine art and craft work respectively.

The free exhibition at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre runs from 16 - 28 November, 12 noon to 8:00pm daily. For more information on the work the NCF, please visit www.ncf.bb.

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