With so many incredible women living in the tropics, often going unnoticed on their little islands by the rest of the world, I wanted to take the opportunity to share their stories here. This new series, Women Who Rock Their Rock, will feature island women in all their glory, inspiring others with the work they do and how they’re making a difference on their islands.
If you missed the first post in this series, be sure to check it out here.
The woman featured in this second post in the series is helping art to thrive on her rock in ways it never has been able to before.
MEET BUKI CAHANE
ISLAND: St. Lucia
NOMINATED BY: René Cahane (her husband – how sweet is that?)
Buki was born Rebecca Oluwaseun Olubukola Falaiye in Lagos, Nigeria in 1983. She lived her early life with aunties and uncles while her parents established a life in England. She was eventually brought over when her papers were granted to join her four older siblings. Being the youngest and unable to speak English made Buki somewhat shy, though this shyness masked a deep resolve and strength. Unaccustomed to a busy school, Buki took her time to find her feet. In the process, she discovered art and books, and her love of the creative arts was born.
Many years later, Buki met her husband René in London. She then worked hard to put herself through university, gaining a Bachelor of the Arts degree in History and Theory of Media, Art, and Design with First Class Honors. She was also awarded the John Walker Prize for an Outstanding Dissertation in Visual Culture.
Buki set out into a working career, holding various positions in the media and art world. Along the way, she gave birth to her daughters Matilda and Elodie in London. With child number three on the way, they decided to make a huge change in their lives. They sold their house and moved to Antigua. Unsure if it would all work out, they rented a villa and gave themselves three months to build a new life, figuring if it didn’t work out they would head back to London and start again. Two weeks in and René received a job offer. After a month in Antigua, their daughter Leora was born in St John’s hospital overlooking St John’s Harbour. Then two years later, when René received a job offer in St. Lucia, they jumped at the chance and moved to their second island.
In this new chapter of her life, Buki reignited her passion for art. She decided to go to New York for three months in 2017 to intern in galleries to reestablish herself in the art world. She challenged herself to build a career as a curator from the ground up. Though after two and a half months, she realized she could do far more for her island community on St. Lucia than she could in New York so she headed back.
Just six months after she returned, Buki rented out a disused photography studio in the back of a printing company’s building. She worked her magic to create a space reminiscent of a gallery in London or New York’s art district and opened the MeCurator Art Gallery – the first legitimate art gallery on the island of St. Lucia.
MeCurator “holds art at its core. As an art curator, Buki’s heart is in connecting artists, audiences, and collectors of art. Whether you are a young artist working to show your talent to new audiences or an established artist looking for new connections, Buki works to build those bridges with you. Growing artists is MeCurator’s priority and their support includes exhibitions, outreach to new audiences, generating PR, and successful funding applications.” For more on the organization’s mission, check out their website.
Buki has challenged herself to build something that gives back to the community where she lives. Living somewhere is easy, creating a legacy is hard – but that is just what Buki is doing.
Buki has taken on many projects in a short amount of time and has many more on the horizon. She worked with the Cultural Development Fund of St Lucia on a project in the small village of Canaries to feature local artists. The event was a huge success, gaining recognition in the local media and television.
She is currently working to create an exhibition for islanders under twenty to reestablish art as a viable career path. In this, she will show young people the platforms of art, design, media, and photography and teach them how to create careers for themselves.
Buki is also working with a charity that assists people, especially children, who suffer from lupus. Additionally, she is pairing with various secondary schools to give free visits and workshops which will feature artists to explain their work and provide inspiration to the children. MeCurator is also working to bring local art back to the forefront by connecting with island hotels and other businesses who may showcase St. Lucia’s artists in their decor.
Her passion for art is infectious and many in St. Lucia have credited her in inspiring them to start painting or get back to the art they had long abandoned.
Thank you, Buki, for bringing art alive on your island – rock on!
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Do you know of an amazing woman on your island who deserves recognition for the difference she’s making on her rock? Send us an email and nominate her for a chance to have her featured here.