Showcasing our history

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. — Buddist Proverb

The Village@Gureje, Renate Albertsen – Marton Gallery is part of a wider artistic space that spans a growing multicultural segment of Brooklyn, New York.

Within a radius of about two miles, and along Fulton, one can access American, African and West Indian cuisine, boutiques, entertainment, and shopping, among other things. The National Dance Company of Jamaica, for example, performs annually at the theatre of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

It is in this cultural setting that two Barbadian artistes, Nigel Pierre and Clairmonte Mapp, chose to exhibit about 100 pieces of acrylic and oil paintings under the theme, Black and White with a Chance of Color, for three weeks.

At the official opening held last Sunday evening, a sizeable crowd of well wishers braved the challenges of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to critique the work of the artist, enjoy an evening of conversation and light refreshments and add to their collection.

Pierre Nigel, like Clairmonte, is self taught and had a selection of 37 pieces on display. Many of them were paintings of pictures which he took and then altered the story to add conflict or to give it some other perspective.

“The woman that is bending over was not in the original picture. As you can see, something was going on. She became a listener to the story that was being told,” he explained to another artist.

“How did you get the white to look so white?” I asked Pierre.

“There is no white there at all. There are several shades of grey used to create an illusion. It’s just like the picture I did with the cricketers. I used cream to make their clothes look white,” he replied.

Christened Nigel Pierre but using Pierre Nigel as his artist name, he hails Michaelangelo – who he met while reading in the Junior section of the Public Library in Barbados – as the artist’s artist and believes that art is life, and life is art, past, present and future.

He has done life-size paintings of “Shilling”, Errol Barrow and Sir Garfield Sobers. The painting of Sir Garry is currently on display in a galley in Nottingham, England.

Clairmonte Mapp, who taught Art at St. George Secondary School, has art studios in Barbados, New York and Alabama. His work is wide and varied and encompasses a number of outstanding styles and media, including acrylic, watercolour and airbrush and printing. His work has been exhibited and sold in the Caribbean, Italy, UK and US.

Mapp used modern artistic techniques to express a wide range of themes, including African Mask, Equal but Different, Pan Yard, Gymnast Gabby Douglass, Honorable and Humble Husband, Lily Pond, Catching The Sunset, Cutting Sugar Cane, Crucifixion and Dancer.

Mapp’s philosophy and world view are art-centred and he believes that art is an expression of his strengths and weaknesses and claims that virtue from within the depths of his inner soul. In fact, he says that if he cannot express his craft then let him die.

Among those present were photographers Winston Wharton and Clyde Jones; Barbadians Sue Yelin and Barbara Brathwaite; and the family of Clairmonte Mapp.

Yesteryear, there was a large group of Barbadians who, like Pierre and Clairmonte, were to a large extent self taught. Indeed, their names do have long labels attached or their pictures are etched in or history. What cannot be denied is the role they have played in a pre-Independence Barbados. For that single reason we should therefore establish a wall of honour at UWI Cave Hill where the names of our primary school teachers, for example, could stand alongside the work of persons like Mapp and Nigel.


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