Loss of a cultural icon

Bill Grace
Bill Grace

National cultural icon Bill Grace has died after a long battle with cancer.

Grace, who has been living in Israel with his wife for about five years, passed away quietly in his sleep early Friday morning, close friend Senator Professor Emeritus Henry Fraser, a historian said.

Grace was known for his work with music, painting, sculpting, poetry and ceramics, and once taught sculpting and drawing at the Barbados Community College.

Grace with one of his mobiles. (Courtesy Artsetc)
Grace with one of his mobiles. (Courtesy Artsetc)

“Bill has been described by members of the art community of Barbados as a national treasure and a cultural icon, with a gentle spirit and a blazing passion for art and creativity. His love for Barbados knew no bounds.. He was a Renaissance man, with many gifts and an overwhelming love for nature, beauty and people. Everyone was innocent until proven otherwise and he had an almost saintly love for people, especially those in need and those with a spirit of creativity,” Professor Fraser tells Barbados TODAY.

He was multi-talented as an artist – formally trained as a studio potter, but working with great originality and success as a sculptor and

Clay sculpture by Bill Grace. (Courtesy Artsetc)
Clay sculpture by Bill Grace. (Courtesy Artsetc)

painter. In recent years he was known for his mandalas and coral stone sculptures, which represented a philosophical and meditative interpretation of life, peace and harmony.

He has held many exhibitions of his work – one man and group shows, in Barbados, most recently at the Frangipani Gallery and at Holders House, in Israel and in group shows in North America. He taught for some years at the Barbados Community College, and was twice visiting artist at Skidmore College in New York. His wife, Shuah is from Israel, and they have lived in Israel for the past few years,” the historian said.

The art community is discussing a memorial event and a posthumous, celebratory show of Grace’s work.

6 Responses to Loss of a cultural icon

  1. Charles Tibbits
    Charles Tibbits June 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    My condolences to his family and friends!!

    Reply
  2. Amanda Jorgensen
    Amanda Jorgensen June 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Aww loved this guy!

    Reply
  3. Amanda Jorgensen
    Amanda Jorgensen June 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Aww loved this guy!

    Reply
  4. Christine Hinds-Wellman June 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I am saddened by the news of Bill’s passing but glad that I got to know his creativity and the man I’ve often called a “gentle giant”. Even before I officially met Bill in 1984, I’d watched him work unbelievable choreography with his hands and clay on the potters wheel during the times when he’d set up a demonstration centre in the middle of Cave Shepherd’s store on Broad Street. Bill was a teacher and a true trail blazer. My thoughts go to the family at this time of deep personal loss. Barbados mourns a creative loss but the BG legacy lives on…

    Reply
  5. Joanne Light June 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Bill brought his personal and Bardados-charged energy to Wolfville, Nova Scotia in the early seventies. I was fortunate enough to be part of the contingency who were swept into his sphere of influence, which was large. He had a spiritual presence and enthusiasm for the joy of creating that infected all who met him. Whether it was discovering watercolour or a beautiful song, Bill was often the one catalyzing the spark. We jammed with guitars ands drums; made a literary page in the university newspaper; hiked to the magical Three Pools filled with waterfalls and rocks to explore–Bill was everywhere, charming beautiful ladies; having heightened art discussions with Professor Maury Brown; producing and giving away beautiful paintings; playing music with his buddies, Gary Manzer, Pogo Blackmer, Daniel Heikalo. He was heart and mind in overdrive. When he left to study in Spain for a year, we mourned the loss of him. When he returned, my roommate and I each hoped we would be the woman in his life, but he was fleeting and spirally out in his own universe of discovery and creation. I remet him in 1979 when I entered the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where he was studying. He was with his first wife by then and my last interactions with them were when he was diagnosed with melanoma. He amazed everyone with his zeal for self-healing and, again, he was a catalyst for another friend, who was diagnosed two years later with fourth stage hodgkin’s. Bill had given me an article about his use of macrobiotics in healing himself, which I gave to my other friend and because of which I believe he had ten good years (as his doctors had given him only a 20% chance of survival as he wasn’t responding to the chemo and radiation treatment). I saw him again in 1985 and he was on fire with his pottery.

    Bill had 34 years full of wonder after that diagnosis. He said at the time “Cancer is not a death sentence; it is just your body telling you to do something different. He went on to acclaim and created his most amazing work–his marriage with Shuah and birth of his three children. It is fitting that one of his “shapes” was the spiral. Spiral on, Bill, the music of the spheres will now enfold you in their light for eternity.

    Reply
  6. alison Joy Webster/Dunford June 28, 2014 at 12:19 am

    The World has lost an Outstanding Artist. So proud that he was Barbadian! Thank you Bill for your Legacy.

    Reply

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