Grenada artist Jessie-Ann Jessamy creates spice-inspired crafts.
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
If you’ve ever been to Grenada, the eastern Caribbean country also known as the Isle of Spice, you know that there’s one aromatic ingredient that’s particularly prevalent. Here, nutmeg — the round aromatic seed of myristica fragrans — flavors jams, jellies, and liqueurs; is sold by the basketful in the market; and even shows up in soaps and chocolate.
Nutmeg is also a leitmotif in the work of Jessie-Ann Jessamy, a local textile artist and painter affectionately known as The Nutmeg Lady. We caught up with the creative dynamo at her Grand Anse atelier to find out more about her spice-centered craft.
The Seed Is Planted
“I’m a fine artist who dabbles in anthropology, and I majored in Fine Arts and Carnival Studies at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. For my final exhibition I came up with the idea of using the nutmeg, which is such a national icon, as a way to explore Grenadian history and culture as well as my own rural background. I grew up on a farm and people used to call me ‘Spice Girl,’ so it felt like a natural progression!”
From School to Sand
“I wanted to avoid stereotypical island imagery such as palm trees, and to find a way to make the nutmeg an equally appealing print motif. First, I created a nutmeg-based toile, incorporating typical scenes from a Grenadian nutmeg processing plant. And then I explored the nutmeg’s color, texture, and history in more graphic designs. At my final exhibition, both were well received, so when I left university, I decided to do some test marketing.
A friend helped me make some simple tote bags and wraps and we took them….
Photo: JESSIE-ANN JESSAMY