Connect with us

Bahamas News

Coming Home, Local Exumian becomes First Artist-in-Residence at Big Sampson Cay



By Paula Welch


Big Sampson Cay, Exuma — In the super-charged reality we call our daily lives, few things — and fewer places — still have the capacity to take our breath away.

One of those is a near hidden gem that lies in the heart of The Bahamas and this week, a local artist had an opportunity to capture it as the island’s first artist-in-residence. His name is Emmanuel Clarke and for the better part of five days he worked alone on the relatively undeveloped island called Big Sampson Cay, his brush strokes on canvas creating a permanent repository of the blues and greens of the waters and land around him.

The idea of an artist-in-residence program originated with Bob and Jeanne Coughlin, second homeowners in Exuma and the developers of a planned $50 million retreat on Big Sampson.

“Many may not be aware, but those who have crossed the path of Bob Coughlin understand he has an unwavering desire to see natural beauty preserved,” explained Eric Carey, former executive director of the Bahamas National Trust. “As residents of the Bahamas the Coughlins have been doing whatever they can to support and help in every way possible with a variety of organizations, including BNT, Trust, Friends of Exuma, Run for Pompey, Tour de Turquoise.”

Tour de Turquoise, the cycling event, raised more than $100,000 for Exuma causes.

Coughlin is the co-founder and president of Friends of Exuma, a 501C3 foundation that provides a means for ex-pats to donate to worthwhile causes and programs in Exuma from scholarships to environmental and cultural preservation. Its major donations to sailing have uplifted the new national sport in the islands where the native sloop regatta was born.

It was at a Paint ‘n Sip event through the Arts Network and Friends of Exuma that the Coughlins first met Clarke. They shared stories of their love for the Exumas, the Coughlins purchased a painting and shared their vision for the gentle footprint, eco-development on Big Sampson Cay.

For Clarke, that accidental meeting was fortuitous. While his family is from Little Exuma, part of his family resided in the U.S. and he spent much of his youth abroad, attending high school in the U.S., college in Chicago area and continuing a post-graduate university program in France.

“The frigid cold, the exact opposite of warm sand, crystal oceans and our beautiful eco-system,” he lamented. “The Bahamas and Exuma kept calling me back. This is my home’.

When he returned, he was determined to corral his training and his travels into capturing on canvas the majesty of the land of his birth.

“I was one of the lucky people,” he says. “I always knew what I wanted to do from an early age. I just wanted to design and paint and there is no place more beautiful than right here at home in the Exumas.”

As conversations continued between the artist and what would become the patron of his first residency, the idea was born.

“Let’s have artists take turns, come stay on the island, use this great slice of heaven on earth and allow that to be the muse for one’s talent. This would be such a cool and interesting way to share this with people that will be coming to this retreat, to see the art, be a part of it being created and share it so these works of art will make it around the world as people’s prized possessions as they recount the most peaceful place on earth they’ve ever been,” said Coughlin.

Clarke was invited to the island with little advice other than ‘paint to your heart’s content.’

He admits the thought of it was “a little scary’ but once he was on Big Sampson, a boat ride of more than 60 miles across the chain of 365 islands and cays, he was so inspired his energy just took over.

“I felt alive in every way,” he smiled.

“Picture this, he says, “I would take a walk along the beach at sunrise, explore spots I’d like to set up and study that area to start, eat some breakfast, I would set myself up – paint, easel, canvas, sometimes just start sketching, but always in a place where I could look in all directions and experience all the surroundings. Then in-between I would go diving in the ocean, go fish off the rocks, eat berries. Space and peace continuously leave room for creativity. It is never ending.”

As his last day of painting on the Big Sampson Cay was wrapping up, he said there was not enough time to paint all he could see. “It was an honour to be the first artist-in-residence at Big Sampson Cay,” he said. “It will provide even more inspiration for artists of every age in the Exuma Arts Network and its camps. When the retreat is built, hopefully, we will be able to bring artists on a regular basis. This is like God’s canvas and I am glad it is going to be protected by someone who has the vision.”

To get involved or learn more about Arts Network:; and insta: @exumaartsnetwork

To find Pratt-Smith’s art and to see more about him please go to his insta: @emmanuelaopc

Continue Reading

Bahamas News

CTO mourns the passing of former chairman Obediah Wilchcombe



#BARBADOS (September 26, 2023) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) deeply mourns the loss of distinguished Bahamian leader and former chairman of the inter-regional body, Obediah Wilchcombe.

At the time of his passing, Mr. Wilchcombe was serving as Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting and Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas.

“We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Minister Wilchcombe’s family, as well as the government and people of the Bahamas. He was a true champion for the people of the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region,” remarked Kenneth Bryan, CTO Chairman and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands.

Chairman Bryan recalled Minister Wilchcombe held the position of CTO Chairman twice (2002-2004 and 2016-2017) while serving as Minister of Tourism for the Bahamas, and contributed significantly to the advancement of sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean.

Chairman Bryan noted that the CTO plans to honor the life and legacy of “this eminent Bahamian leader” at the organization’s upcoming business meetings and the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Turks and Caicos next month.

Continue Reading

Bahamas News

Beloved Bahamian Obie Wilchcombe dies; shocking, heartbreaking loss for The Bahamas



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 


#TheBahamas, September 26, 2023 – The Bahamas’ Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe made headlines in a completely unexpected way on Monday September 25; the veteran broadcaster and long-time politician, who passed away suddenly in his home island, Grand Bahama.

Reports to our newsroom were that Wilchcombe was found unresponsive and rushed to the Rand Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Reports say the Minister passed due to heart failure at 64 years old.

The Office of the Prime Minister informed the prime minister would immediately travel to Freeport, Grand Bahama to be with loved ones of his Cabinet colleague.

The office offered this:  Expressing condolences to the family, friends, loved ones and colleagues of Minister Wilchcombe, a true patriot, visionary leader and his cherished friend, the nation’s leader, in his official statement, said he was doing so with the heaviest of hearts.

“Obie’s untimely passing is very shocking and very sad. Even though he has achieved much in his many years of public service, he still had so much more to offer,” Prime Minister Davis said.

The Minister, affectionately called Obie Wilchcombe, was a fierce Member of Parliament  who has been serving in politics for about 28 years, starting in 1994, according to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).

Not only did he serve as Senator and Cabinet Minister, but he was also the former Minister of Tourism and a National Chairman of the PLP.

“Our party is reeling this morning,” said Minister Fred Mitchell, current PLP National Chairman in a statement, “The party joins in those expressions.  We have a deep sense of loss from one we have known over the decades of public life.

On behalf of the PLP, our leader and the entire team, supporters and friends, we can extend condolences to his family.”

Former prime minister and PLP party leader, Rt Hon Perry Christie said, “Obie served with distinction as Minister of Tourism.  He was a dedicated servant of the people and a chief steward of our nation’s number one industry for some ten years.  Any student of the tourism industry for the period of Obie’s ministerial tenure will be left in no doubt as to the magnitude and importance of his numerous accomplishments in relation to the growth and development of Bahamian tourism.”

In fact, as Tourism Minister, his notable accomplishments, according to party leader and prime minister, Davis included the introduction of sports tourism and the creation of a policy which helped to cement The Bahamas as an ideal film destination; two of the top three films of 2006 were shot in The Bahamas.

Additionally, the late Minister was a sportsman.

Wilchcombe served as former President of the Grand Bahama Basketball Association and the Commonwealth American Football League (CAFL).

His career in journalism is legendary.  Having worked with the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas as a reporter, anchorman and eventually taking on leadership roles including Deputy General Manager.  At the time of his death, Minister Wilchcombe was holder of the Information and Broadcast portfolios of the Davis Administration.

“This is a very sad occasion for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as you’d be aware one of our Frontline soldiers who would have labored very long in the public service Vineyard had passed, we learned early this morning the Honorable Obie Wilchcombe  passed away the free national movement wishes is to extend condolences to his immediate and extended family and to members of the Progressive Liberal Party and to members of the journalism fraternity, having lost someone who has played an integral role in the development of this country,” said Michael Pintard, fellow Grand Bahamian and Leader of the Official Opposition, Free National Movement.

From the region, there is also reflection and condolences. From the Caribbean Tourism Organization:  The CTO deeply mourns the loss of distinguished Bahamian leader and former chairman of the inter-regional body, Obediah Wilchcombe.

At the time of his passing, Mr. Wilchcombe was serving as Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, and Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas.

“We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Minister Wilchcombe’s family, as well as the government and people of the Bahamas. He was a true champion for the people of the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region,” remarked Kenneth Bryan, CTO Chairman and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands.

“The Premier and Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands sends its condolences to the family, friends, government, and people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas on the sudden passing of the late Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, MP.

May his soul rest in peace,” said Hon Washington Misick, TCI Premier.

The death of Minister Obediah Wilchcombe is the first; a cabinet minister dying while still in office has no place in recent memory for many.  It will mean a by-election for The Bahamas and a mournful experience when parliament reopens on October 4; Hon Wilchcombe with his vast experience and eloquence was also the Government Leader of Business in the House of Assembly, which is currently prorogued.

Continue Reading

Bahamas News

Government in talks to address housing situation in Garden Villas, Grand Bahama



By LEDEDRA MARCHEBahamas Information ServicesGRAND BAHAMA, The Bahamas – As the government moves ahead with its strategy to bring relief to the people of Grand Bahama, the Hon. Keith Bell, who recently took on the portfolio as the new minister of Housing and Urban Renewal, travelled to Grand Bahama, September 21, to meet with Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey and relevant stakeholders.Top on the agenda was the decrepit state of the housing complex situated in the Garden Villas area, a stone’s throw away from the downtown shopping district.Minister Bell was also accompanied by Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal, the Hon. Lisa Rahming and a delegation from New Providence.Before conducting a walkabout in the Garden Villas area, Ministers Moxey and Bell headed the contingent in meetings with executives of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Development Company Thursday morning.“We’ve also had tours at various facilities that will help us carry through some of these projects that we want to do. But I’m just excited that we will begin to see action because there is so much that our people have been going through and so we are working hand in hand, the Ministry for Grand Bahama, Housing and Urban Renewal, to ensure that we not only bring relief but that we will revitalize these communities,” Minister Moxey said.The delegation performed a general walkthrough in the Garden Villas area to get a first-hand view of the living conditions and spoke to a number of residents.Cognizant of the work ahead and the relief it would bring to the area residents, Minister Moxey was elated to collaborate with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal and private stakeholders to get the projects started.“I’m so excited that they are here on Grand Bahama to really assess the situation on the ground. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. We are now in the Garden Villas area that requires numerous issues to be addressed. One of them is housing. You can see many of these dilapidated structures that exist,” she said, while pointing out that Minister Bell has made Garden Villas a priority as one of the initial projects to be undertaken on Grand Bahama.The delegation also visited the area Urban Renewal Office and the Heritage Subdivision.
PHOTO CAPTIONHOUSING PROJECTS – Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey and Minister of Housing and Urban Renewal, the Hon. Keith Bell led a delegation on a walkabout of Garden Villas on Thursday to get a first-hand view of the living conditions as part of government’s plan to further address the housing situation on Grand Bahama.(BIS Photos/Lisa Davis)

Continue Reading