Junie Bomba's sculptured conch shells
His one of kind sculptures reflect his Crucian heritage and the mystery of the Caribbean Sea. Junie Bomba Allick, a native of St. Croix, has immortalized the region’s conch shell by combining its natural beauty with his inspired artistry.
Allick, a well-known member of the St. Croix community and an accomplished artisan, musician and entrepreneur, works with shell as another sculptor may use marble or stone. He envisions the incredible multi dimensional images, cutting and smoothing surfaces to bring new shapes to life.
His pieces have evolved over the past decade. Intricate pink porcelain-like patina with natural curves, spirals, and distinctive cuts are both modern and timeless. The scupltures are set on a base of hand-cut local mahogany.
Allick’s work was inspired by curiosity. “ One day I was admiring the conch shell’s beauty and wondered what it might look like inside, so I got a saw,” he explains. “ I couldn’t believe the colors.”
He shared some of his early pieces and people became enthralled.
“ This is just a natural thing that came upon me”, says Allick, who has perfected a process that includes soaking the conch shell in a special solution to remove the algae without damaging the color. He dries it in the sun before employing his tools - saw, wire bush, sand paper and baby oil.
He sculpts under an almond tree in his yard in Frederiksted, “surrounded by good spirits.”
The sea and the conch shell have long been a part of Allick’s spirituality. In the 1970’s he operated “Native Sloop,” a sailboat built from island trees, which ran charters to St. Croix’s Buck Island. In the 1990s he helped found Frederiksted Community Boating, Inc, where he is a board member and an instructor. The organization teaches children to sail and swim, explore underwater and be stewards of the island’s beaches and its marine environment.
Allick learned sailing skills from his father, a second-generation sailor and a captain of cargo ships that traveled the world. The Wilfred Allick Container Port on St.Croix is named in his honor. Allick’s father also taught him how to blow the conch shell, the method of communication for early islanders and a cultural ritual still practiced in St. Croix. Allick continues to demonstrate the “blowing of the conch” at many special events, keeping the island’s culture alive.
A man of many talents, the arts are dear to him. During his twenties, Allick began drumming in New York’s Central Park with Latin musicians, feeling the rhythms in his soul. Now he is an accomplished congo player with a well-known Latin jazz band in the Caribbean.
Proud and passionate about his Crucian heritage and the island's natural resources Allick wants to give back to others and pass on his talents to future generations. He is developing a CD to encourage sustainable art from natural recycled resources, such as the conch shell he uses after local fisherman have harvested the meat. " I hope people will see what I've done and take it to the next level", he says.
“I love creating something new every time and I always want to make it better".
Note: Junie Bomba Alick is working with the Krieger Creative Group to market sculptured conch shells around the globe. For more information call 336-287-4706 or visit Krieger Creative Group website.
Junie Bomba Allick can be contacted directly at 340-244-9057.
Photo: Allick's sculptured conch shells. Right: Junie Bomba Allick
Photos by Denise Bennerson, PhD.
Listen to Junie Bomba Allick's interview with Maura Curley
Maura Curley is a senior writer and editorial director for virginvoices.com.