The team, comprising Bernard Beckles, Nigel Cornwall, Joan Hampton, Jemma Lewis, Tony Tankai, and Shane Valentine, overcame a series of hurdles to win at this acclaimed competition.
Bernard Beckles, veteran florist and owner of St James flower shop, La Tropicale related the bizarre string of events that led to the award.
The trouble began when the team learned that the bamboo stalks necessary for the display were three feet too long for the aircraft. With limited funding and without some of the material needed to bring his original concept to life, Beckles, whose team also took home the gold medal in 2013, tapped into some spur-of-the-moment creativity. “I had to walk about the compound and pick up discarded things,” he admitted.
Inspired by Rudder’s ‘Calypso Music’, the display, entitled, ‘Rhythms of Our People,’ reflects the nation’s ethnic and cultural influences, playing on the dual theme of the sacred and the profane. The former, represented by the altar base, the latter by the Carnival and the African drums, the tabla and the steelpan. The driftwood represents Tobago, while the influences of the Spanish and French are also present. Beckles cited Trinidad and Tobago’s decision to host CARIFESTA XIV as yet another inspiration.
Beckles relayed the joy of seeing expat Trinbagonians’ pride at the team’s participation and subsequent win. “Some of these people haven’t been home in [decades],” he explained.
“Representatives [from other countries] were curious as to how to get [certain plants],” Beckles related. “That made me respect my country more. We don’t appreciate what we have in front of us.”