Street Art in the British Virgin Islands

By Abi King | The Caribbean

Mar 23

Up, up, up they go, swirl and curl around and then down, down, down, plummeting back toward the turquoise coast and boat-flecked harbours where bartenders are busy serving up nutmeg-flecked drinks. I’m not talking about the pelicans, I’m talking about the roads on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and their staggering level of narrow, steepy windyness.

Driving these roads is like riding an emerald-coated rollercoaster fringed with palms, papaya, coconut and sugar apple treats. A blurry backdrop of a tangible, tasty Garden of Eden.

And the man behind the wheel, my driver for the week, did not like to go slow.

Except for in this one spot. The corner where the street artists swirl and curl their paintbrushes around, up and up, then down and down, filling our eyes with more than just that turquoise coast and those boat flecked harbours with their nutmeg-flecked drinks.


Here, men slice through cane, hoe fields, collect crabs and pails of fish are brought from the sea. Children chase horses, women laugh and everyone joins hands to dance.

Street Art in BVILike much of the rest of the world, the pace of life here in Tortola is changing. While much is for the better, these portraits touch on the nostalgia or knowledge that good things too are lost from the past.

The man who shows me these is young. Cornrows zig-zag across his scalp and yet already he has more than one daughter who waits for him at home.

He is young but old enough, it seems, to yearn for some of these scenes to return.

12743037093_cf96506ccc_cSimple pleasures, simple foods, simple traditions that bind together communities in a different way to that Apple and Microsoft cloud to which we all now belong.

Not everything is gone, of course. Children still file into classrooms, deft hands still strum the banjo.

But he asks me to show you these scenes through my lens, to magnify the work of the artists and to prevent these former images from fading from the collective memory of mankind.

I click, I obey.


And then we’re back in the car, plummeting, swerving and bouncing down between the coconuts to the sparkling crest of the sea.

I hope you enjoy this taste of street art in the astonishingly beautiful British Virgin Islands.








Disclosure: I visited Tortola as a guest of  the British Virgin Islands and Elite Island Resorts but as ever, as always, what I write here is up to me.

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