Bringing life to wax
Barbados has a new attraction – a wax museum along the lines of the famous Madame Tussauds in London and New York. It is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and the wider Latin America region.
Madame Tussauds is well known for creating and displaying look-alike sculptures of famous persons from around the world. The museum here, however, will primarily highlight Caribbean icons who sometimes go unnoticed.
The venture, located in Christ Church along Maxwell Main Road, is the brainchild of Arthur Edwards who developed a natural talent for sculpting during his childhood days when he made sculptures from soap. To put this talent to effective use, he came up with the idea of opening the museum back in 2009.
However, it was not an easy journey moving the venture from idea to reality. There were setbacks along the way in the form of financial and other challenges which had to be overcome before the project could be brought to the present opening stage.
Originally, Pelican Village, near the entrance to the Bridgetown Port, was earmarked to be the home of the museum. The choice was informed by Edwards’ view that Pelican Village is on the wrong side of the road and does not offer any attractions for tourists.
Explaining to Barbados TODAY the process of making a wax sculpture, Edwards said it begins with selecting a picture or taking a photo of the individual to be sculpted.
Using a chemical construct of wax and other components, the shape is formed after which the mould is made and cast in resin. The shape is then further refined and another mould is made and cast in silicon rubber. It takes three months to complete the figures with additional time allocated for clothing them.
As the figures are not completely made of wax, Edwards has assured that the heat and humidity of the island will pose no threat. He said the response from living individuals sculpted has been one of pure appreciation not only for the idea, but the fact that they were chosen.
He told Barbados TODAY candidates were given the option to choose how they wished to be depicted. Anthony Gabby Carter chose to be portrayed as he is currently, while Emile Straker of Merrymen fame chose to be portrayed as a younger man.
Olympic bronze medal-winning sprinter Obadele Thompson simply told Edwards “God bless you” when he found out about the sculpture. He chose to be depicted as he was during the Olympic Game.
According to Edwards, young people are generally unaware of the outstanding icons who have walked the earth. He therefore believed highlighting them was critical. Already he has faced criticism from the wider public through social media over the venture but he said he was open to sugestions.
Edwards is hoping, however, that Barbadians will embrace the venture and that as a result of positive regional response, the museum can eventually expand beyond Barbados to other caribbean countries.