Beautyfull things

Today I just want to meditate a bit on beauty. About its mysterious ability to magnetise, to inspire us to be better. I’m talking about natural beauty — like a stupefying sunset, or that beauty generated by man in works of art — like “Woman on De Bass” by Trinidad All Stars… That magic… I just want to share some of the things that touch me as an artist, as a person fighting for the honour of local creativity.


I remember the first time I saw “Beauty in Perpetuity” by George Bailey and Terry Evelyn as a child. It was just a photo, yet the image terrified and compelled me. Later as a youth “Man Crab” by Peter Minshall thrilled me in the same way. And “The Apotheosis of El Tucuche” by Leroy Clarke. I remember — as young artists — we all ran down collections of Leroy’s drawings — the same way we ran down exhibitions by Stuart Hahn — probably T&T’s greatest figurative illustrator.

I remember as a child learning how the radio worked just so I could put it on Saturday morning to press my ear against the speaker and hear the late great Errol Jones tell the stories of Anansi. I remember ritually camping in the living room with my whole family watching Dimanche Gras finals every year — until about 1992… enchanted by the revelation of each song. I remember my family again huddled together watching Turn of the Tide, No Boundaries, Sugar Cane Arrows, and Play of the Month — just as we would later The Cosby Show… These were all beautiful things…

I remember what it felt like to witness Dido and Aeneas by Bishop Anstey — how it transformed me seeing live theatre and opera of such epic scale and singular quality. I remember the expectation each year of witnessing the revelation of the next Minshall mas — just like I would obsess over the next installment of Harry Potter by JK Rowling 30 years later… I remember as a child awaiting each song by Shadow and Funny in that way. Later it would become David Rudder. For those years when the Network Rhythm Band was generating the second generation rapso sound with “Ring De Bell” and “Crucial Decision” I remember each release setting off depth charges in my soul — like it did for a lot of my generation… There was a period in the 90s when it was like that with Godwin Bowen’s arrangements for Pamberi and Ken “Professor” Philmore’s arrangements for Fonclaire for Panorama. Later I would make pilgrimages to the buildings constructed by Roger Turton — our greatest architect…

I am talking about Beauty. I am talking about things that stopped the earth for me when they appeared.

All this is happening in the context of the pantheon of great artists internationally whose work inspired me — whose craft I apprenticed to from afar…The genius architect Frank Lloyd Wright; George Lucas and Star Wars; Jim Henson and Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and later Storyteller; the genius Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa and his equally gifted lead actor Toshiro Mifune; the music I grew up on — the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane… The genius American filmmakers — Francis Ford Coppola, Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando…

I consider our pantheon their equal — Minsh, Leroy, Jit Samaroo, George Bailey, Carlisle Chang, Andre Tanker, Sundar, Astor Johnson, Tim Tim, Earl Lovelace, Sam Selvon, Horace James, Shadow, VS Naipaul, Kitchener… Their works, their artefacts of beauty are as compelling, as powerful…

These days I distract myself with the brilliant ensemble acting of How I met your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Big Bang Theory, and Veep. I’m inspired by the conception of Game of Thrones and thrill to see designers given second chances on All on the Line on Sundance. Recently I obsess over the albums of Kanye West. They resonate with me in the way the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication and U2’s Joshua Tree albums hit… I want to create enabling environments where local artists can reach for greatness like that…

Recently I looked again at Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke. It still does it for me. And although at this very moment Hollywood underwhelms, this year was blessed with genius films like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, John Carter and The Dark Knight Rises…

Two shows which were the equal of any art done on the planet were both held at the Little Carib: Boogsie in Concert — had me in tears of joy repeatedly, and Winterreise — the last work produced by Pat Bishop was awesome. Works like these keep me fighting for the creation of enabling systems where our legacy and our best can rise to create world-commanding work.

I encourage all of T&T — from CEO to garbageman — to come out your house and take in some art and beauty this week: Minshall’s exhibition at Y Gallery, Eddie Bowen’s exhibition at Medulla gallery, Jackie Hinkson at the National Museum and at Softbox Studios, Glen Roopchand at On Location. Support Andrew Fitt who has a concert at Shaker’s on Saturday to raise money to show his paintings in New York.

Posted on October 21, 2012, in President's Blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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