Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2013 Contents B3
ESSAY AND PHOTOS BY MARK LYNDERSAY
At each of the Art Society s panel dis-
cussion series, there s been one
speaker who has commanded the
conversations. At the first talk, it was Willi
Chen, whose outspoken candour challenged
and engaged the audience. At the second,
unsurprisingly, it would prove to be Peter Min-
shall, whose passion for local art and concerns
about its development drove his eloquent dis-
course on the subject.
At the third edition of the event on July 18,
LeRoy Clarke emerged as the man command-
ing the microphones.
Clarke isn t always loquacious when given
an opportunity. Sometimes he can subside
into a sullen torpor, bound by restraints only
he can perceive.
At this event, though, the veteran artist,
after a tentative, even cautious start, let loose
with his signature vigour on an audience that
must have expected something strong from
him, but perhaps not a statement quite as
blunt as "I don t like the Art Society."
But that s racing ahead to the juicy parts,
and Clarke wasn t the only panellist at the
The panel was moderated by Diana Mahabir-
Under the rubric "The visual arts in T&T
in the last quarter of the 20th century," four
panellists explored the state of art between
1975 and the turn of the century. Marcia Des
Vignes, designer and arts educator, Trevor
Byron, marine artist and arts educator, Sarah
Beckett, artist and poet, and Clarke, artist and
poet, offered their thoughts on the subject at
Well, sort of. The history of art in the last
25 years of the 20th century were, apparently
as grim and unadventurous as one might imag-
ine from the collective output of the era.
For the arts educators, it was uphill all the
"The THA made a difference in providing
a space for art and artists," Marcia De Vignes
and educator in the school system for the last
33 years said, "but parents and teachers actively
dissuade children from pursuing art as a career."
"South," noted Trevor Byron, "had it harder
After listing the impressive roster of artists
from the south of the country who have
become national and international names,
Byron, an art teacher for 31 years, lamented
the steady migration of talented artists to the
north of the country.
Beckett, who acknowledged that she came
to the country in 1969 for love, began her
work as an artist here when there were no
galleries, and held her first showing of work
as part of the group of six at Bishop Anstey
"What s important is the development of
art in the country," Beckett said.
"Rambissoon, Bishop and Chu Foon all had
a vision of art coming from this small country
and finding a place in the world."
Clarke s vision was a bit more bleak.
"I was born a dissatisfied man," he told the
Art Society audience.
"Unsatisfied, not pleased with anything. So
I set about doing something. Trinidad is a
brutal place, and if we haven t made a mark
in the world in 50 years, it s because of that."
On his return from working and studying
abroad, Clarke returned to Trinidad and Tobago
with, as he puts it, murder on his mind.
"I returned to kill two people," he said.
But the two, Boscoe Holder and Carlisle
Chang, apparently preferred to sit and have
a drink with the angry young artist, sharing
their lives and work with him. Clarke would
eventually deviate from his lethal intent, sure
that both men were dead already, apparently
slaughtered by the challenges of working in
"I had the blessing of Carlisle Chang," Clarke
said in a moment of acknowledgement and
It was a rare grace note from the panel, who
seemed with precious few such exceptions,
to have little that was positive to report from
the front lines of art during the last quarter
of the 20th century.
The next panel, scheduled for September
4, will engage the young turks of the art world
who have emerged since then in a discussion
and contemplation of where art is going in its
LeRoy Clarke gestures while making a point.
Artist Sarah Beckett is at right.
Art educators Trevor Byron, left, and Marcia Des Vignes listen to the discussion with moderator
Diana Mahabir-Wyatt at the Conversation with the Elders 3 event.
closes down ---Page B4
mas with novel ---Page B37
Panellists at the Conversation with the Elders 3 event at the Art Society's headquarters were, from left, LeRoy Clarke, Sarah Beckett, Trevor Byron, Marcia Des Vignes and
moderator Diana Mahabir-Wyatt.
...the Art Society's
the Elders 3
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