Question: I will be in Havana in Feb. I am interested in finding persons interested in fibre arts/knitting/spinning/weaving. Any suggestions.
Answer: Two of the several locations that exist in Havana for finding persons interested in fibre arts, knitting, spinning, weaving and other related crafts are the Casa Comunitaria Puentes Grandes – La Ceiba and Grupo Miau.
The Casa Comunitaria Puentes Grandes – La Ceiba is one of a number of Community Centres that exist in Havana. Located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the capital – La Ceiba – and serving a local population of some 15,000 people, this community centre is a hub of activity for residents of all ages. A modest working class area with an aging population, and traditionally the most industrialized part of the city, La Ceiba is known for its old and rich tradition of music, art and handicrafts.
Situated in a recuperated former trade-union centre, the priority of the Community Centre is to be of service and benefit to the community. In addition to providing language courses (English, French and Italian) to interested individuals, there are also courses and workshops in artistic patchwork, textiles, crochet, sewing, quilting, embroidery, hairdressing, dancing, drawing / sketching, ceramics, clay modelling, as well as on human growth, violence management and popular education. Cooking classes are also offered that bring the old together with the young and allow elders to exchange secret recipes. Manual activities are supported by the Community Centre because people can learn a skill that will help them quickly earn an income – as self-employed workers – from the results of their labours. Below is the contact information for the Community Centre. The principal specialist is Caridad Caballero León (“Cari”).
Casa Comunitaria Puentes Grandes – La Ceiba
(Puentes Grandes – La Ceiba Community Centre)
Avenida 51 #4425
esquina 48 (corner of 48)
Puentes Grandes – Municipio Playa
Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba CP 11400
Telephone (537) 207-6405 / 207-6406
Note: Put in the subject line “Sobre artes manuals de fibre”)
Another organization that is involved in fibre and other arts is Grupo Miau. Named for the sound that cats make (meow), it is connected with the Cuban Cat Fanciers’ Association (ACAG in Spanish). A non-governmental organization founded in 1991, ACAG brings together cat owners and breeders around the country. Its main objective is to preserve and genetically improve the nine breeds of cats that presently exist in Cuba, and educate the public about them. Every year, in December, a largeExpofelina (Feline Exhibition) is held in Havana, with a smaller one organized during the summer months. One of several collateral activities held simultaneously with Expofelina is an exhibition of patchwork wall hangings by Grupo Miau, usually in Hotel Inglaterra in Habana Vieja.
Founded in 2007, Grupo Miau today boasts some 15 members, one of whom is a man (although they hope to expand this number). They work with fibres, textiles, dried bits and pieces from nature, etc. and they make art works, handicrafts, dolls, utilitarian items, things for the home, patchwork, etc. Cats is only one of the many themes represented in their works. On February 27, 2011, they have been invited by ANIPLANT – the Cuban equivalent of the SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – to mount an exhibition of tapestries and wall hangings entitled “Entre perros y gatos” (“Between dogs and cats”) in honour of the inauguration of ANIPLANT’s headquarters located in Centro Habana. On March 11, 2011, Grupo Miau will have an exhibition in the Hotel Inglaterra in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8th).
To contact Grupo Miau when you are in Cuba, you can call the president, Nirma Marin, at her home in Havana at telephone (537) 863-9096.