Monday, April 22, 2024

EASY MAGAZINE: In touch with craft


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“A todas las personas el limite es el cielo, no existe barreras para lograr tu metas.” (Spanish) – Nancy Roach

 Translation: “To all people the limit is the sky, there are no barriers to achieve your goals.” 


NANCY ROACH has not lost sight of the good in life.  Despite the daggers that life has thrown, she has used positivity, optimism and the love of her family as her best defences. 

When she was 50, the Venezuelan lost vision in her right eye following surgery for glaucoma. And because of the condition of her left eye, she is unable to recognise colours, faces or features, only shadows. 

Before the 59-year old artist made Barbados her home in 2003, death knocked on the doors of her family within the space of 19 days.

First it was the death of 13-year-old daughter Maria Jose Melendez from kidney failure and then her mother Maria Melendez passed away from a stroke. 

EASY recently interviewed Roach at her Connell Town St Lucy home. Since she does not speak English fluently, her sister Laura Ward and niece Laura Maria translated most of her conversation in the 50-minute interview. 

Roach was an accountant by profession before she lost her sight. Her relatives said she said it was “frustrating” for her to have to adjust, but eventually she had to “kill” the old Nancy to get on with life. 

“My hands are my eyes and now I touch everything,” Nancy said in English.  

“It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible, especially when you have people beside you helping you to get through,” she added in Spanish as Laura Maria translated. 

“The other problem is I don’t speak English,” Nancy chimed in jokingly.

To cope with the cards that have been dealt to her, she finds solace by placing her energy into making art pieces and assisting her family at the Earth and Fire Pottery studio, listening to audio books, finding food recipes on Google and exploiting her creative genes in the kitchen.

It was this point that both Laura and Laura Maria gushed over Nancy’s cooking skills. “She has the best seasoning. When I was pregnant and when I used to come home, my son would be jumping and dancing in belly after I smelled whatever she was cooking.  So now that he’s grown up he and he smells her food, he’s like ‘Nancy, you’re cooking!” Laura Maria said. 

To get the Over the holiday season, Nancy was busy in the kitchen creating Venezuelan dishes such as Pan de Jamon and Hallacas however for the family’s News Year celebration, she plans to cook pepper pot. 

In an effort to challenge herself, Nancy entered the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in 2010 for and she received a Visual Arts Award for Handicraft and NIFCA also awarded her a Special Award for the Differently-abled  in the same category. 

In addition to her visual impairment, Ward said that Nancy had also developed arthritis and eventually kidney problems which have slowed down the amount of work that she can do.

“At first she didn’t believe that she could grow as a craft person but now after time passed she has more confidence and that led her to NIFCA. She used to fall into pain because of the Arthritis and it was difficult for her but, she was taught the ABCs of clay, how to knead the clay and then she was able to make things like the slabs and plates and beads. She helped us do a lot of the things that we did not have the time to do,” Ward added.

After she got the awards, Nancy said it showed her that she could do create more pieces and enter them in the annual festival. 

When asked what advice she would pass on to those who have physical conditions, she said that they should not limit themselves. 

“It’s shouldn’t be a problem if you have a condition like me or if you are person who is active. For everyone, every day is a challenge but we have to overcome those challenges. To all people the limit is the sky, there are no barriers to achieve your goals,” she said.  (TG)   


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