Bamboo Bobby

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Meet Hellshire Beach’s artist-in-residence

In Kingston, everybody knows Bamboo Bobby. For 27 years, this bamboo-carving crowd pleaser has been a fixture at Hellshire Beach. His workplace is a lively fishing village outside town where hand-painted shacks steam with frying fish and just-caught lobster. Bobby spends his days expertly carving names, patois phrases and requested messages onto cylinders of bamboo—“but no bad words,” he insists. Fittingly, he keeps exclaiming “blouse and skirt!” which is the patois equivalent of “oh darn” or “shut the front door!” He also saunters around chanting, “Bamboo Bobby not shabby!” which when he says it, somehow rhymes perfectly. Bobby’s seen all the major hurricanes reshape his beachside office and makes sure to point out a row of large stones set up as a wall against the water. Then without looking up from his handiwork, he asks, “Yuh wan fish, bird, butterfly or lion?” Watching him carve the requested fish (seemed just right for the setting) to occupy the last patch of undecorated stalk, he shakes his head and smiles, “Dis knife perfect.”

Photo Credit: Photo by William Richards