‘From Trash to Treasure’ Artisan Del Foxton says Art is Transformative

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ are two phrases that come to mind when one views any of the masterpieces created by artisan Del Foxton, as she utilizes items that many would disregard as trash, turning them into beautifully designed art pieces and creations that leave many in awe.

During a recent tour of Foxton’s studio located in East Grand Bahama, the artist shared the process behind many of her unique pieces.

Using various forms of paper and even tree leaves, her studio is filled with mind blowing, conversational pieces of artwork that she has created over the years.

Describing herself as, “Canadian by birth, but a Bahamian by choice,” she said that she and her husband have decided to call The Bahamas, home.

She shared how the concept of using recycled materials, for the most part paper, has been used to create her work. “We have been living here for a very long time, but in Canada, if you have a blue box or green box, you have to put the right garbage in its proper place. If you don’t it will not be removed.”

Foxton shared that upon moving to the island, she realized that was not the case and felt the need to do something about it.

“I started recycling paper and then, as our trees started to grow, such as our banana and hibiscus trees, I started to use the leaves and mix them with the recycled paper.

‘My new word is ‘Re.’ Re is a new term for me, because you ‘Re-visit,’ ‘re-cycle,’ ‘re-do,’ you ‘re-purpose,’ everything; we are ‘re’-doing. I just redecorated my studio … everything in my life right now, I guess, it is all about new beginnings, but the ‘re’ word is wonderful.

‘One of the really good things here on Grand Bahama, I believe, is that we have such wonderful artists. Some persons come up to me and say, ‘I wish I could do work like this; I cannot even draw a straight line.’ I tell them that they are not supposed to draw a straight line; nature is not straight … I try to remind them of that.

“There are people on this island creating spices, designing coconut jewelry and so much more,” said Foxton.

“I find that the community of artists on this island is fabulous, and I believe that we have a community that supports the arts. I know that in the Grand Bahama Artists Association, teachers have art programs and events such as the one recently hosted by The Bahamas National Trust, National Park Day, it was absolutely beautiful,” stated Foxton.

With her own personal display at the event, Foxton noted that she was surprised and elated to see the number of young boys that paid a keen interest in her work. “Many of them came back and wanted to make paper. I think that the significance of art is good here on the island. The teachers are fantastic about it, but I do not know if we give enough recognition to it; not only recognition, but the fact that it is so important.

“Personally, I was in business and when we transitioned and moved here permanently, and transitioned into art, I changed. I saw things differently. It is so wonderful that our students’ eyes are opened up to the fact that art is a good thing. You see life differently with art.”

Questioned if she shares her knowledge of paper art with students on the island, Foxton answered, “Actually, the students do not come here, but I go to the teachers.

“A lot of the art teachers that I know are doing such a great job.

“I went to Abaco a while ago and I had the opportunity to speak to a number of art teachers there. I was asked the same question recently, but I prefer to have a group of teachers together and teach them. They are going to be the ones instructing the students.

“I am very happy to share everything that I know, but by appointment only, with a maximum of about four persons at a time where I can give one-on-one attention to and talk about it,” explained the artist.

Foxton shared that she loves working in tandem with other artists on the island and has participated in a number of collaborative efforts, with like-minded individuals over the years.

The artist disclosed that she is presently working on a few pieces for an upcoming event in the capital. “I have been invited with four other Bahamian artists to go to Nassau in November to attend an art exhibition saluting women, entitled ‘WOW: Woman’s Ode to Women.’”

Questioned how long she has been a ‘creative,’ she responded, “I have always been interested in drawing, very early in my life. But my first show was here, in Grand Bahama, in 2004 with the Grand Bahama Artists Association. We have a very wonderful community here of artistic, creative people. It is such a beautiful thing … they are all fantastic; it really inspires.”

Foxton noted that over the years she has had the pleasure of working with many artists here on the island and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. “It is really wonderful to collaborate with the community,” she added.

During an extensive tour of her art gallery and workshop, Foxton shared some of her work and what it entails from start to finish.

“I begin by shredding the paper and then I soak it. Once it is soaked, it is placed into a pulping machine.” The paper as well as leaves which she sometimes combines, is then drained.

From there the material is rehydrated, transferred to a canvas, dried and ultimately transformed into beautiful artwork.

She said that depending on the weather and the size of her pieces, her masterpieces can take anywhere from three to four days to dry completely.

“The significance of art is just mind blowing. I believe, certainly in Canada, I have heard from my friend up there that a lot of the art programs are cut for financial reasons and that is not so here. All of the schools have art as a subject here.

“There is such a thing called art therapy; when you give a piece of paper and crayons to a child, the colors that they pick up, right away the therapist will know where they are. It all has meaning.

“Art is so significant in so many ways … The community that it has provided me and that is available to all of us,” stated Foxton.

She noted that despite what many in the capital may perceive as ‘non-existent’ here on the island of Grand Bahama, she is of the view that the artisan and creative community here is alive and well.

“There are pop up art shows more and more now. I agree that there should be more, but unlike Nassau, we do not have 17 galleries. But we still have a lot. I celebrate my artistic community on Grand Bahama Island, and I find it inspirational for me. I have people that come out here that think they are coming out here to see my work, but I find that they inspire me,” Foxton said.

Author: FN Reporter Jaimie Smith

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