Our Community - Lindsey Hackston - "Soaking up the color in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 26            July 5, 2001

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Lindsey Hackston

Many of us in San Pedro would move to another place in the world "in the blink of an eye" if the opportunity arose. On the other hand, the same holds true for people living in other parts of this vast world, that would move here if they were aware of the richness and beauty that exists in Belize. A melting pot, Belize's diverse cultures and its natural beauty are two of the main reasons why many make this "Caribbean Paradise" their home. This week we are pleased to introduce a person who, after exploring much of the world, decided that the country's magnificent scenery, colorful people and peacefulness combined the perfect elements of a place she wanted to call home - Ms. Lindsey Hackston.

    Lindsey Hackston was born on July 2nd, 1958 in West Kirby, England but was raised in Guildford in South England. She attended Tormead, an all-girl private school. Lindsey recalls that as a young girl, her parents encouraged her and her sister to study and appreciate the arts. She remembers many wonderful visits to art galleries, the ballet and the opera in the company of her father. These outings sparked Lindsey's interest in art and even at a young age, she felt it would play a major role in her life. Nearly finished with her secondary studies, she was ready to explore the world.

    Lindsey's next adventure, as an English teacher in Athens, Greece, gave her much satisfaction as it offered a chance to learn more about art. Greece's grand museums and ancient ruins fascinated her, making her two-year stay much more enjoyable. By her early 20s, Lindsey had made up her mind to see the world and off she went to the Middle East. Hired as a flight attendant for the Royal Jordanian Airline stationed in Amman, the capital of Jordan, her exciting new job made Lindsey's dreams a reality. She traveled the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Europe and the United States, spending lovely layovers in many exotic countries. Whenever Lindsey received time-off, she would take advantage of the company's offer of complementary airline tickets so she could travel to destinations she had not yet visited.

    Lindsey first discovered Belize in 1983, after visiting friends in the Dominican Republic. She had heard many intriguing comments about the country and wanted to see it for herself. Off again, Lindsey landed on Ambergris Caye. "San Pedro was a lovely place, very peaceful. It seemed as it was cut off from the rest of the world, as if the world had not caught up with it," she commented. After being injected with large doses of sun, surf, incredible diving and friendliness from the locals, she returned to work. Back in Jordan, Lindsey finished up her four years as a flight attendant. She then found herself moving to Forestville in Northern California where she spent the next four years. But, in order to keep her original dream alive she moved again, this time to Seoul, South Korea to work as a ticket agent for British Airways.

    Throughout all of her travels Lindsey collected ethnic arts and crafts, a constant passion in her life. She was especially fond of the na‘ve, primitive works that reflected the culture of a country. Although Lindsey had found many examples of this type of art in Belize, fate took her off to El Salvador for a year. In 1989, she returned to the peaceful Central American country that touched her heart - Belize. Lindsey remembers all her travels with fondness but says that when she would sit around reminiscing with friends she would always recall her wonderful experiences in Belize. This deep feeling grew and finally prompted her to permanently relocate here.

    Once settled in San Pedro, Lindsey was hired as a photographer for The Coconut Wireless, the local newspaper. This job gave her several opportunities to witness the magnificent talent of the local artists. Encouraged by the wealth of art on the island, she opened her own small (16' x 16') art gallery at Fido's Courtyard, displaying local artwork and painting T-shirts for tourists featuring island and mainland scenes. The gallery, Belizean Arts, has since expanded to its present size, nearly triple the original locale. Lindsey commented that in the beginning Belizean Arts started out as a hobby but she had to develop this interest into a viable business after the birth of her children. Lindsey is the proud mother of three children: Chantel (10), Justin (9) and Alejandra (6 months), all born Belizeans.

    Today, Belizean Arts carries a large amount of paintings, handmade jewelry, ceramics, and crafts from Belize and neighboring countries. What is unique is that every little piece of merchandise in the store has some sort of artistic content in it. Questioned about some of the high points of her career in Belize, Ms. Hackston stated that it had been the numerous art exhibits she has hosted featuring Belizean artists. "I have been privileged to work alongside some of the greatest artists in this country: Nelson Young, Lita Krohn, Teryl Godoy, Walter Castillo to name only a few," stated Lindsey. She continued, "This career has also given me the opportunity to meet such talented artists as Pen Cayetano, Edwardo Garcia, Mary Wyant, Lawrence Lee and Benjamin Nicholas."

    Lindsey has also put her love of art into practice and has created some of her own magnificent pieces. At her home in Tres Cocos, with life partner and artist Orlando Garrido, she experiences this passion from their workshop. Ms. Hackston gives credit to the local artists for her work stating, "I learned to paint from the local artists who are self-taught. Unlike European artists who are highly trained and follow artistic guidelines, the artists of this region have created their own style. It is very free," Lindsey ended. Through all of the years she has been working with these artists, Lindsey is proud to say she does not "gouge" money from them. She believes that, although she runs a business, she feels that it is imperative to give the artists the "bigger portion of the cake" and because of this she has gained the trust and respect of the many artists she deals with.

    Reflecting on her experience of living in San Pedro for the past eleven years, she commented that the environment of the island is very uplifting. "The lovely backdrop, the sunrise, sunset and the overall picture is very therapeutic and helps make our daily problems disappear," she concluded.

    Having traveled to many places around the world, Lindsey Hackston has made Ambergris Caye, Belize her home. She has established her family here and created an art gallery that not only displays the diverse cultures of Mesoamerica, but also provides economic and social benefits for many of the locals. Her days of going to the ballet and opera are now substituted by a daily boat ride along the Caribbean Sea while the sun sets on the horizon. Through Belizean Arts and her own very artistic vision, Lindsey Hackston is a "colorful image" in the kaleidoscope of people that make up "Our Community."

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