I always look forward to visiting Trellis Bay
because it means I will have another opportunity to roam around Aragorn's Studio. I think it's a fascinating place!
Here you will find all sorts of Caribbean handicrafts, jewellery, sculptures, large wood carvings, calabash purses and bowls, hand woven baskets and various other gift items to take home for the family.
Aragorn Dick-Read was born in 1966, right here on Tortola
. His seemingly endless talents never cease to amaze me. In addition to being a marvelous artist, Aragorn has a remarkable talent for bringing people together and promoting any and all local talent, wherever he finds it. He is the co-founder of the Caribbean Artisan Network
and his studio displays and sells the fabulous works of artisans from all over the Caribbean.
The Outside of Aragorn's Studio
An Example of the Art on Offer
In the summer of 1994, during one of his many excursions all over the world, Aragorn met a Carib Indian and artist from Dominica named Jacob Frederick. Both artists shared a great interest in Caribbean cultural history. One of Jacob's dreams was to some day build a proper Carib Canoe.
Fast forward to December 1995, construction began on the 35' Carib canoe in Dominica and after a great deal of time and effort, she was ready to be launched on November 20th, 1996. She made her first ocean voyage in May of 1997 when she set sail from Dominica to Guyana.
Gli-Gli was named for the sparrow hawk (aka the American Kestrel), which is the Carib Indian symbol of bravery.
Aragorn's Wood Carvings
Carib Canoe Gli-Gli
Aragorn's Metal Sculpture of an Agave
The artist is best known for his metal sculptures, some made of steel and some made of copper. He sculpts all sorts of different things such as fish, birds, dolphins, whales, plants, etc. I suppose in recent years, the fireball has become one of his most well know items, having travelled to China to build the biggest fireball in the world in 2011.
The Agave (or century plant) could and one time be seen all over the hills of Tortola and other islands. The bright yellow blooms were unmistakable. Unfortunately, sometime around 2000, beetles decimated pretty much almost all of them. Happily, I have seen several young plants spring up here and there In the last few years, so there is still hope they will proliferate. Undoubtedly, it will take a very long time before they once again lend a profusion of yellow to the hillsides. The large dried stems and flowers of the century plant were generally cut down and decorated as Christmas trees in many homes throughout the British Virgin Islands.
The shop is exquisitely decorated, in keeping with the products for sale. Tree stumps and branches are integral to his display, highlighting various natural products such as hand woven baskets, lamp shades, calabash hand bags and many other intriguing and skillfully designed items.
Aragorn is passionately devoted to the Carib Indian culture and their history. He has made it his life's work to keep both alive through various art forms. Perhaps his most engaging works are his copper and steel sculptures which are absolutely fabulous. He will also design and make special pieces by commission.
Local artists and artists throughout the Caribbean are invited to come and use the facilities he has supplied to throw pots, carve, weave, paint, learn different art forms or teach others.
If I had a bottomless bank account, I'd have one of Aragorn's metal pieces in every room. I'd have a loggerhead turtle in my living room, a fireball in the yard and a driftwood dolphin over my door! The intricate sculpture (above) of the triggerfish (aka old wife), snapper, moray eel, tangs, wrasse, gar, sponge, tube anemones and corals very nearly came home with me ... but I really want the turtle first!
Aragorn's Fish Sculpture
The driftwood and sea fan sculptures are fascinating too! I haven't seen a dolphin yet, but hope to some day.
Driftwood Fish Close Up
Aragorn's Studio Jewellery Section
Aragorn's Studio Handicrafts Section
The studio also has a very active group of potters, whose handiworks can be found on display in the store too. There are some really lovely items to be found.
Though all products are very well displayed, there is so much eye candy here that it is easy to miss some real gems. You need to take your time in order to see all the interesting little things. The nice thing about this shop is that you won't find any far east trinkets or any junkie little bits and bobs. Everything at the studio is hand made in the Caribbean by
Caribbean artists. I love the calabash purses. Very clever.
As previously mentioned, Aragorn's signature products are probably the fire balls. Every month, there is a full moon party in Trellis Bay, put on by all the merchants here. The party features the fire balls as well as the Burning Man. Their New Years Eve party
is one of the liveliest "family friendly" events in the BVI!
See Aragorn's website for more information or ...
call them at (284) 495-1849