The arctic lands of Canada’s North may seem to be a long way from Port of Spain, but art can connect cultures and communities all over the world.
Featuring representations of hunting, fishing, and interactions with animals, Culture on Cloth is a travelling exhibition of tapestry art produced by Inuit women from Nunavut that concluded its Latin American tour with a visit to Port of Spain, in Trinidad and Tobago.
Displayed at Port of Spain’s National Museum and Art Gallery, the exhibition was arranged through cooperation with the High Commission of Canada, which provided handouts and information about the Inuit peoples to the viewing public.
During the month Culture on Cloth was displayed in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated National Amerindian Heritage Day. To mark the occasion, Mr. Vel Lewis, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, accompanied a large contingent of Amerindian peoples on their visit to the Culture on Cloth exhibition. Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guyana, and Suriname, the visitors came dressed in traditional costumes and regalia, and were greeted by High Commissioner Karen McDonald. The group included Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, the Head of the Santa Rosa Carib Community, and current Carib Queen Jennifer Cassar.
It was indeed a memorable experience to see the indigenous peoples of the region marvel at the work of their counterparts from Northern Canada. All who were present expressed delight at what they saw, and Mr. Hernandez expressed particular joy at being able to view such marvelous pieces in the company of his peers.
Both Canada and Trinidad and Tobago can boast of being truly multicultural nations, each country enjoying a rich heritage of diverse cultures, customs and traditions, emanating from the varied ethnic populations which inhabit both countries. In addition, like Canada, Trinidad and Tobago can boast of its own indigenous heritage and peoples in the form of the Santa Rosa Carib Community, who strive to keep the traditions and culture of the Carib people alive and well, not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but in the Caribbean region as well.
“The High Commission felt it was well worth bringing this exhibition to Port of Spain, as the work produced by these amazing Inuit women speaks to the importance the Government of Canada attaches to the ideal of multiculturalism,” said High Commissioner McDonald. “We believed it would also resonate in this country, given the efforts being made by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in the area of multiculturalism.”
On behalf of the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, Mrs. Nimah Murakil-Zakuri, curator of the National Museum and Art Gallery, expressed her pleasure and gratitude to the High Commission for bringing the exhibition to Port of Spain. She said that ventures such as this were excellent opportunities for the promotion of diverse cultures both within and from outside the borders of Trinidad and Tobago. She was pleased to have worked hand in hand with the High Commission of Canada to make the exhibition a success, and looks forward to continuous cooperation between the two countries.
The exhibition also dazzled members of the diplomatic corps, the general public, high school art students, and students from the Visual Arts department of the Faculty of Creative and Festival Arts the University of the West Indies. Culture on Cloth carried the work of Inuit women far from its homeland to resonate with global peers and art lovers worldwide.