Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Livity for Sabi and Eugenia


So, Sabi, Eugenia, their kids and, it would seem, Edge, who was like their family, have been taken by Hurricane Tomas.
Livity Arts Studio, their workplace and home were swept entirely away under the power of water, land and the mountains. An almost unbelievable event for those of us who knew them…and many knew them. They were like family to many, good friends to more, business partners to many of the traditional crafters – Daphne Stephen, Irene Alphonse, Cathy Osman, just a few who had a special relationship with them. 
Eugenia and Sabi, Balenbouche, Summer 2010, Photo by Tricia Fay
 For the rest of us in the arts and crafts community, they were a fixture – always there – part of everything. You name the event – they would be there in some form or other…some of us would pick n choose, deciding some events ‘were not worth our effort’…not Sabi and Eugenia – they might think it, say it, but they’d be there anyway, to support the arts “Yeah man, Finola, you know…it’s what we do” That’s what Sabi would say, and Eugenia would smile and make a little face, her heart in the same place.
I remember in the midst of the troubles of the St. Lucia Arts & Crafts Coop, where Sabi was the President…we all sat outside while the Board met…we were ‘complaining’ that Sabi was too soft…many there did not realize Eugenia was sitting quietly with us. She eventually piped up and said “I’m tired telling Sabi he has to be more firm” But let’s be honest – it was not in Sabi’s heart to believe anything bad about people…he could not give up believing there was ‘a reason’ no matter how bad it seemed to the rest of us anyone was behaving.
I drove by Livity so, so many times, not stopping, sometimes missing the horn to beep “hello”, but always saying “hello” in my heart. Now I cannot help but wish I’d stopped more often. How many times have I felt that recently with the loss of people in my life? Too often.
Livity Arts Studio
 I saw Eugenia last briefly – stopped by on a rainy day to get a bamboo basket for our cat to sleep in – we have two huge ones from them for our spoilt dogs. She emerged dust covered with sandpaper in hand, from somewhere in the back…eyes puffy but smiling, working hard as always. I got my basket – which I have in my studio, the cat preferred his current bed…and I was glad anyway – I liked the basket :-)
The last time I saw Sabi, stopped at Livity, I was taking Andy and Rich from Dominica to discuss the upcoming training that the FAO, through the Ministry of Agriculture is doing. It was a great visit.  We looked around at the calabashes – carved, stained, woven onto by Daphne – we talked about it all – laughed at the number of bags of calabashes, green, dry, small, large, that we saw just everywhere, and Sabi laughed “Yeah man, and that’s not all you know – we have more!”
When we looked at the coffee beans Sabi started to talk about how long it had taken them to perfect the roasting of the coffee…I would know – we used to roast coffee and had long been asking Sabi for coffee off his land, but as it always was with him, he loved to do it himself! We talked about how most people end up burning it, and we discussed if it was Arabica or Robusta we had here – and eventually just agreed it was the best coffee anyway, anywhere – and I remarked that people had emailed us from all over the world to say so! So he asked would we like some. YES! Of course the answer came…so off he went to brew some up.
It was a great cup of coffee, fuel for more chat. 
Coffe and Cocoa beans at Livity
You know the secret to getting good colour on a calabash? I can tell you now – I am sure Sabi wouldn’t mind. Sharpie markers.
I was asked today if I’d speak to the media about Sabi and Eugenia – I’d happily do it, but you know, much as I am so involved in the arts and crafts,  much as I knew them many years, I know many more of you also shared this friendship…please share here…and I set up a facebook group – Livity for Sabi and Eugenia – so we can plan to do honour to their memory and keep their spirit alive, please do join and talk there too.
Eugenia and Sabi in St. Kitts, photo by Urmie Persaud
 If you have pictures you'd like to share, please use the kontacrme button on the right below the subscribe button.
Please share your memories 

26 comments:

  1. Thanks Finola, for this. I've saved some of your pics for archives and for other postings.

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  2. Most welcome Robert - I'm so glad I can do this.

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  3. Lovely people I am glad I have a chair and some paintings - I cried all last night when I heard the news -God Bless them Sue Beckwith - Marigot

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  4. I met him only briefly on my last day of my family vist to SLU. He was the coolest and nicest person that I had the pleasyre to meet. He talked with pride about his craft and also about his coffee beans as we told him of other coffee processes. I have pics which I will share later. Thanks for putting this post up. He was a special king of person. May he and his wife rest in peace. It's hard to stomach. Life is so cruel to good folks...Ronnie Finn, CA

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  5. Finola I never knew these people But my heart goes out to everyone who feels the pain at their lost. A beautiful tribute.

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  6. I did not know Sabi, but with such and outpour of love for this man I feel like I knew him also. God bless his soul..Finola great tribute
    Joanne H Haynes

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  7. Thank you Finola for giving these great people the light they deserve.I cant seem to get the comment posted..so I am sending it to you.

    They will be truly missed by all of us in the Caribbean Artisan Network.
    What heroes for the cause of Caribbean craft they where. What dedication they had to creativity...the Livity will live on and I know their spirits will keep working in all of us who have dedicated our lives to the craft culture.

    Sabi 's abundance of positive energy , his love and dedication to the arts, the craft ,the nature culture and the bravery to make it ones life. He was a true inspiration ,his house, his studio, the garden ...the blissful location that was.
    I am so glad he was honored this year at the festival for his dedication to the craft trade. He was a king pin in the St Lucia craft circles, an encourager , a spokesperson, a leader who knew the history , the importance,the passion , the freedom that a life of craft gives one , to be your own boss , to feel the thrill of working with others of the same inclination,of finding the materials,to dream a design, vision a product, to put your mind in your hands and make it,to stay up late to for-fill the order.To share , to give the visitors a piece of St Lucia's culture ,to explain it to them, to spread the good vibe. Sabi understood what he was doing , he knew and lived by the power of craft .

    Euginia, the massive heart of the matter. Holding the castle , the children the calabash. I am so glad she finally came to Tortola this year. She took a break and joined the festival...her quiet confident energy held Sabi at a glance. Her eye for the design and her savvy for the price.

    Oh Edge, a lovely man who I will miss forever. What a radical , what a pure spirit of art ran in his veins... along with the other stuff!!. What fun what pleasure, what a fou fou, what Pitons, what colours,what back flips!
    What a grin ,what style , what a friend to have,what ease ,what a passion for paint , what difficulties he over came,what a true Caribbean Artist !

    I could go on long...written with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

    I will be digging out the footage and interviews I have of my lovely friends . It will make us weep....the lives of the Livity crew will not be forgotten.

    To the Artisans, the comrades in craft.

    With love

    Aragorn

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  8. Thank you Finola for giving these great people the light they deserve.I cant seem to get the comment posted..so I am sending it to you.

    They will be truly missed by all of us in the Caribbean Artisan Network.
    What heroes for the cause of Caribbean craft they where. What dedication they had to creativity...the Livity will live on and I know their spirits will keep working in all of us who have dedicated our lives to the craft culture.

    Sabi 's abundance of positive energy , his love and dedication to the arts, the craft ,the nature culture and the bravery to make it ones life. He was a true inspiration ,his house, his studio, the garden ...the blissful location that was.
    I am so glad he was honored this year at the festival for his dedication to the craft trade. He was a king pin in the St Lucia craft circles, an encourager , a spokesperson, a leader who knew the history , the importance,the passion , the freedom that a life of craft gives one , to be your own boss , to feel the thrill of working with others of the same inclination,of finding the materials,to dream a design, vision a product, to put your mind in your hands and make it,to stay up late to for-fill the order.To share , to give the visitors a piece of St Lucia's culture ,to explain it to them, to spread the good vibe. Sabi understood what he was doing , he knew and lived by the power of craft .

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  9. Euginia, the massive heart of the matter. Holding the castle , the children the calabash. I am so glad she finally came to Tortola this year. She took a break and joined the festival...her quiet confident energy held Sabi at a glance. Her eye for the design and her savvy for the price.

    Oh Edge, a lovely man who I will miss forever. What a radical , what a pure spirit of art ran in his veins... along with the other stuff!!. What fun what pleasure, what a fou fou, what Pitons, what colours,what back flips!
    What a grin ,what style , what a friend to have,what ease ,what a passion for paint , what difficulties he over came,what a true Caribbean Artist !

    I could go on long...written with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

    I will be digging out the footage and interviews I have of my lovely friends . It will make us weep....the lives of the Livity crew will not be forgotten.

    To the Artisans, the comrades in craft.

    With love

    Aragorn

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  10. I did not know them personally, as I do some of the other Artists on St. Lucia. A great loss to the art community and the island.

    I have forwarded this to my painting group.

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  11. Sad news. A wonderful family that shared love to all that came there. A great loss to St Lucia's art community.Family condolences to all that knew them they will be much missed.

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  12. Matthew and Norma WattersNovember 4, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    Such a loss. I first got to know Sabi and Jigin when we all lived in Victoria, Choiseul, and they had their art studio there. They were free-thinkers, and pioneers, and their legacy in the art world of St Lucia will surely live on. But more than that they were great people, whose positive energy and quiet enthusiasm for life affected many around them. I last stopped by the Colombette studio about a month ago, on a mammoth solo cycle ride from Soufriere to Castries. Their studio was an obvious place to stop for a breather, and a chance to re-charge the batteries. Son Ali was holding the fort, so I didn't get to see Sabi and Eugenia. But the ambiance of the Livity studio left me re-energized, and able to face the many hills ahead. I sincerely hope that their contribution to St Lucian culture will be officially recognized. My heartfelt condolences go out to Sabi's surviving daughter, Adriana, and her family, and also to Jigin's parents and the rest of Sabi's brothers & their families. Likewise to Matthew Paul's relatives. Their spirit lives on.

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  13. Thanks Matthew and Norma - lovely. And for the beautiful photo which I will post - please do send more - too often we end up without enough records like these.

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  14. Finola,
    This is such a terrible and unbelievable tragedy! I have photos of their workshop but not of them. I saw them 6 weeks ago when in St. Lucia doing the consultation. I had heard of them, but that was actually the first time meeting them. Sabi had such a cool, calm energy, and Eugenia was quiet but very present during the interview. My heart goes out to the St. Lucian art community.

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  15. Sabi,

    My beautiful, wonderful friend, your spirit will forever remain in the hills & valleys of your beloved St. Lucia, wrapping itself around the vivacious, passionate & loving people who continue to reside there. I know that you will continue to be with them in this severe time of crisis, doing what you've always done, helping, encouraging, supporting & giving them the strength to carry on. I celebrate your life, & it was indeed an honour to have spent a brief moment in your majestic presence. May you, Edge, your loving wife & your beautiful children forever rest in peace.

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  16. Lesley-Ann, photos of the workshop would be great - so much of their energy and spirit was in those products and those rooms - please do send them!
    Hope to see you again soon in happier times - the work in developing the crafts is even more needed now.
    I just heard from Jean Cooper in Caffeiere that they are all ok - battered with one person in hospital, but they're otherwise all good - and all her dyed straw was kept safe...seems so little in the face of things to worry about, but we had just started making some real progress with the crafts...we must keep the momentum going.

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  17. This is such a beautiful tribute to my beautiful family, thank you so much Finola, it is still so hard to believe they have actually gone, I just wish it was all a terrible dream, they are all shining bright in Heaven now.

    Thank you for all the lovely comments.

    I will be travelling to St Lucia next week with my mum to be there and support my family. I just can't believe they wont be there, they were such good and kind people, everyone knew them, I remember one time Sabe was driving us somewhere in St Lucia and the amount of times we stopped for people to say hello to Sabe or people beeping him in there cars etc, it was so funny, needless to say our trip took much longer than needed, haha. What can I say everyone loved them all so much :) my cousin Eugenia always sent me something back from their shop when mummy went on holiday, we were all so close and the children, so young, so young, I can't actually think about them its too hard! I cannot forget Edge, he made me laugh so much when I was last there and he was so talented, he also made such a beautiful painting for my mummy of my great gran, its amazing.

    RIP xxxxx

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  18. Louise and everyone, you're all really welcome - I'm just glad to be able to have put this up

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  19. I am very pleased that we are able to honour the memories of this wonderful family. Sabie was a good and loving friend. Always ready to greet with a hug and kiss. I last saw them on Jounen Creole 2009 where i spent some time with them. I did not leave without a souvenir from Livity. It still hurts to learn the manner of their deaths. May they all rest in peace.

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  20. The goods one and those who impact on other peoples lives always go too soon.
    R.I.P

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  21. So devastatingly sad to hear..Sabi and Eugenia and family of Livity ..Bless....truly beautiful times dropping by each time we passed sharing coffee and tales ..meeting with you guys so warm at the sulphur springs...Always that big wide smile Sabi .these memories I so treasure .. The Kiss carving , calabash bowls , Eugenia's beads,photos of us in the workshop, beside me here in New Zealand..
    .Colombette and all St Lucia ingrained in my soul...Jah Bless ..may a little light shine and the days turn outside in again ...arohanui xx my friends

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  22. I wept on hearing the news ... in some ways I'm still weeping. Now I regret so very much not having stopped by the studio more often or purchased more of their works (and the work of the artists who supplied them). I have so many pieces and yet, now, they seem so insignificant in comparison to the whole collections of his work. We have suffered a great loss ... even Edge is gone.
    Larger than life Sabi was, ever the eloquent and exuberant ambassador of the arts ... Eugenia, quite the silent super star, ever present, always supportive. A beautifully odd and yet incredibly complimentary couple.
    Even when I heard they were 'missing', I still thought it was almost impossible for them to be 'gone'.
    Our collective heart bleeds.
    Yet, this was a beautiful tribute to them. Thank you so much to the writer. I very much appreciated that. We share your pain and loss as you do ours.
    We will miss you Sabi, Eugenia and edge. May God Bless you.
    Your spirit and contribution will live on ... we promise.

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  23. MY FAMILY WHOM I LOVED SO MUCH SHARED SO MANY FUN TIMES TOGETHER
    YOU ARE GONE BUT WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN YOU WERE MY ROLE MODELS I CANT STOP CRYING
    REST IN PEACE

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  24. What a beautiful tribute to Uncle Sabi and Aunty Eugenia - my wonderful family. My cousin Louise and Aunty Maryln please go safe. Adisa and Ali you are bright stars in the night sky, God look after our angels. We love and miss you so much
    Sharlyne Jones
    RIP XXXXX

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  25. Lesley Crane-MitchellNovember 15, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Thank you Finola for providing such a wonderful opportunity for all those who loved Sabi and his family to pay tribute to them.

    Words cannot begin to express how much our family grieves over their passing. Sabi and Eugenia were such a loving and giving couple and were tower of strength for our family in the difficult times we faced since our Mum's stroke. She was Sabi's Godmother and he and Eugenia would often pass by with specially made oils and herbs with which to rub life back into her limbs or simply to sit with her and enjoy a chat. They could always bring a smile to her face. Ever generous they would often bring along some tastily cooked fish to try to tempt her to eat.

    As I glance around the house almost every room contains is a reminder of them - a rocking chair made for me when I had my first daughter six years ago;a toy car made out of calabash as a gift for my nephew,a little toy grasshopper given to my daughter the last time we passed by their studio;pieces of pottery and most recently some wooden bar stools which we spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon varnishing while sampling a variety of 'strong' beverages. At the very entrance to our home is a plant given to us by Sabi to ward off evil.

    None of us can believe that they are gone. I think that we still expect them to just show up as they often did- just at the right time.

    They will forever be in our hearts and may God bless them and give their family the strenth to cope with their loss.

    Lesley

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  26. Thank you for this beautiful tribute Fionala. I stumbled on it while looking for a website on Saint Lucia craft,looking for sofas.

    Eugeina and Sabbie and Edge and the children were truly beaufiful and their legacy will live on, We will always love them, never foregt them.
    UlynderC

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