Learn Discovering Anguillan Art Fit for a Royal
At age nine, Cheddie started creating boats out of matchsticks—a sign of what was to come. Now after working as an artist on Anguilla for over 35 years, Cheddie remains one of the anchors of Anguilla’s rich art scene. In 1996, one of his pieces—a carved driftwood dolphin mounted on limestone—was presented to Queen Elizabeth II during her trip to Anguilla and now sits in the Royal Collection. “His gallery is filled to the brim with original artwork, including a handful of bronze reproductions commissioned by connoisseurs and some fashioned from mahogany, walnut, coral, or stone,” Meghan Ochoa says.
But it’s the driftwood art that showcases this local artist’s desire to connect with his homeland’s natural resources found on its various beaches, lagoons, and ponds. “He tries to leave as much of the natural wood as possible, so you can see a hint of what it originally looked like,” explains Meghan. “Cheddie also carves what he knows: the native fish around the island, the vessels used in popular Anguillan boat races.” That means the snapper figurine precisely carved from driftwood that’s sitting on his shelf might look exactly like the local fish you had for dinner last night.
Beneath his gallery lies a downstairs studio littered with tools and stacks of driftwood, some of which Cheddie receives from friends and workers. He’s asked his team to be on a constant lookout around the island’s cays and sandy shores. “He often works on over 100 pieces at a time, leaving one project to work another and returning to finish it later when he feels more inspired,” Meghan explains. “If you’re planning to visit his studio, I recommend calling ahead to confirm he’s there.” You just might get lucky enough to catch the master woodcarver in action, making a forgotten piece of driftwood come alive under his skilled fingertips.