Visitors to the islands of Seychelles now have a wider choice and access to local artworks at affordable prices with the opening of a new gallery at the Domaine Val de Pres, arts and craft village, Au Cap, on Mahe Island.
Located in the beautiful ‘Grann Kaz’ plantation house – a large wooden house dating back to 1870 from the British colonial period – the gallery showcases the best of local paintings and craftworks.
“The opening of the gallery shows the government’s commitment to not only protect and preserve our artistic and cultural assets but also to promote sustainable cultural tourism,” said the executive director of the Seychelles National Heritage Resource Council (SNHRC), Benjamine Rose.
The gallery is a joint initiative between the council and Creative Seychelles Agency(CSA). Rose added that the combined project will provide opportunities to valorise, appreciate and value our artistic and cultural assets through innovative, creative products and services”.
“The aim is to provide visitors with a gallery where they can buy affordable artwork because this is a low-end gallery. We are not selling artwork above SCR25,000 [$1,900],” explained the CSA chief executive, Emmanuel D’Offay.
According to D’Offay, Domaine de Val des Pres attracts a hundred or more visitors daily during peak season and the plan is to work alongside the council to develop the venue. The Domaine de Val des Pres gallery is a commercial gallery and all artworks are for sale.
The gallery is located in the beautiful ‘Grann Kaz’ plantation house. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The Domaine de Val des Pres is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year since its inauguration on October 24, 1988. Apart from the plantation house, the area is the country’s main arts and craft village. It also has a Creole food restaurant, a museum dedicated to coconuts, souvenir shops, and workshops for different art-related activities such as pottery and an art gallery.
More than 20 artists have their works on display at the gallery, which is open on a daily basis. Their work is displayed free of charge.
In addition to seasoned artists displaying their works at the plantation house gallery, students from the island nation’s Institute of Art and Design are also able to exhibit and sell their work, something which has been welcomed by the school’s director, Christine Chetty-Payet, who is also a renowned artist.
“Sometimes the students, although they are at school, do not know what will happen to them after, so this is a start that will provide them with an opening and opportunities especially if they want to go commercial,” she said.
Another new attraction at the Domaine Val de Pres, aside from the gallery, is a museum dedicated to coconuts, which was recently renovated and its activities expanded. The Mize Koko is being used to give visitors a live experience, tasting the coconut and various delicacies made from it, as well as participating in different coconut-related physical activities part of the island’s culture and tradition.
Whilst such attractions are welcome additions on the to-do list of tourists, there is concern that emphasis should also be put on other islands, especially Praslin and La Digue – the second and third most populated islands of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
“I think more should be done to offer visitors to Praslin more attractions like they are doing on Mahe, as Praslin does receive many tourists, probably more than Mahe,” said Maria Brioche of Praslin.
Speaking to SNA, Brioche explained that on Praslin there is only one privately owned gallery selling mainly paintings and a privately owned museum, showcasing Seychelles’ heritage and history as well as art.
“I think the Creative Agency should seek ways and offer artists, not only from Praslin to get a place to promote, market, and sell their artworks, just like what has been done at the Domaine Val de Pres,” concluded Brioche.
Source: Seychelles News Agency