Bringing the sights, sounds and tastes of Barbados home to your loved ones so is virtually effortless if you visit the island’s premier artist- and family-run gift shops, Best of Barbados (five locations, including one at the airport’s departure lounge, for you naughty slackers).
English artist and adventure-ess, Jill Walker, and her architect husband, Jimmy, settled in Barbados in the 1950’s. She fell in love with its people and surroundings, and began depicting them in her detailed, vibrant paintings. In 1975, they established Best of Barbados to showcase local arts and crafts. Since then, her daughter, Sue, also an artist, joined the family business with her husband, Chris. The mother-daughter artists create spirited designs that adorn a generous variety of merchandise, including colorful coasters, trays, beach towels, mouse pads and tote bags, to list but a few of the items available.
Best of Barbados also offers Barbados-centric books for adults and children, local seasonings and sauces, music CDs, T-shirts, plush toys, and soaps and body scrubs made with Caribbean-sourced ingredients. Jewelry fashioned from recycled sea glass makes chic, environmentally-conscious mementos. If you must have kitsch, you will find a handful of pens, magnets and novelty whatnots sporting rasta locks and lounging beach bums.
Whether you’ve saved up for the trip of a lifetime, or you’re a frequent visitor to the island, you won’t want to whittle away precious sunshine traversing from one trinket shop to another (save your sporty self for tennis, snorkeling and sailing). Best of Barbados is a one-stop haven of tasteful, affordable gifts…so that you can savor one more dip with the turtles and lime a little longer on your favorite patch of sand.
- Three generations of Walker-family artists will participate in a family art exhibit – Jill Walker, her daughter Sue Trew and Sue’s daughter, Holly. The exhibition runs from March 25 – April 12th at the Gallery of Caribbean Art in Speightstown (246-419-0858). Exhibition paintings will be available to buy on-line at www.best-of-barbados.com.
- Best of Barbados Gift Shops feature Jill Walker’s beautifully illustrated books:
- Jill Walker’s Autobiography recounts 50+ years of living on the island.
- Jill Walker’s Barbados and Caribbean Cookbooks describe local vegetables and fruits along with some of her favourite dishes and recipes.
- Jill Walker Chattel Houses depicts the history of Barbados’ unique housing architecture.
- Look for The Greatest Hits CD by the popular local group, The Merrymen, for those who wish to bring home the sounds and spirit of Barbados.
- Necklaces and bracelets fashioned from sea glass, in muted hues of blue, green, and amber, cleverly re-purpose glass worn smooth from sea and sand.
- Island inspired soaps and scrubs in combinations like bamboo and sugar cane, bayleaf and ginger, or rum and sugar, make indulgent, fragrant gifts. Pack some Calypso Lullaby sugar cane body scrub for yourself in anticipation of your return to the rat race.
- Canimals (plush, soft sea turtles or green monkeys) are stuffed in an illustrated sealed can that contains interesting animal facts to both educate and charm youngsters (3+ years of age).
- The colorful range of plates, paper napkins and trays brighten up any tabletop with island-inspired scenes and colors.
- Chattel Village, Holetown (246) 432-4691
- Quayside Centre, Christ Church (246) 435-6820
- Southern Palms Shop, in the Southern Palms Hotel, Christ Church (246) 420-8040
- Cruise Terminal, Bridgetown (246) 431-0909
- Departure Lounge, Grantley Adams International Airport (246) 420-4209
Find Best of Barbados online at www.best-of-barbados.com and Facebook.