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Artist commission of Pitch Lake artefact replicas

replica wooden objects in workshop

Artist Kevin Adonis stands next to the carvings. Photo courtesy of Jalaludin Khan. 

One of the most exciting parts of the project was the creation of replicas of selected Pitch Lake artefacts, in order to learn from the artists about the process of carving the various woods, but also to provide handling collections for the museums at the project’s end.

The replicas will enable museum visitors to interact with the artefacts, while the fragile originals remain behind glass. Visitors will be able to get a sense of their weight and the textures of their surfaces, as well as appreciate in closer detail the work that went into their creation. 

replica wooden seats and bowls

Replicas of the bowls and benches. Photo courtesy of Jalaludin Khan. 

The project was locally coordinated by planning and heritage conservation consultant Mr Jalaludin Khan, who was instrumental in bringing the commission together. Once the correct woods were sourced by local wood worker and designer Mr Frank Seales, woodcarver Mr Elijah Beckles and Pyai Cristo Adonis and artist Kevin Adonis of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community collaborated on the creation of the carvings. The artists were provided with detailed photographs of the artefacts, and they visited the National Museum to study the displayed originals. The artists used hand tools (albeit metal ones rather than shell and stone!) and the carving took several months to finish before being transferred to the museums. A video of the process will be available online shortly, directed by Mr Wayne Cezair (Caribbean Travelling Film School). 

The aims of the commission were three fold:

  • to bring Trinidadian wood carving heritage into wider public awareness,
  • to explore its relevance to local artists, particularly through the involvement of the Santa Rosa First Peoples,
  • and to increase understanding of Pitch Lake archaeology and its place in the wider archaeology of the circum-Caribbean.
Cezair filming Beckles as he works on the wooden replicas

Wayne Cezair films Mr Beckles at work on the bench. Photo courtesy of Jalaludin Khan.