Artists should get say on National Art Gallery

When the National Art Gallery is being created, the local arts community should be consulted on all aspects of its construction.

That is the view of president of the Barbados Arts Council Neville Legall who also suggested that the Queen’s Park Gallery, which is being renovated to host CARIFESTA events later this year, and the former Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) buildings at the Garrison, which were earmarked for the gallery, were both inadequate for that purpose.

Neville Legal – President of the Barbados Arts Council.
Photo credit – Barbados Arts Council – paintings by Neville Legall.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, he said while he was glad that artists would have a place to display their work, those buildings would not work for long-term purposes such as storage of art pieces, since the limestone structures absorb moisture and would ultimately destroy watercolour and oil paintings.

The artist said that given some of the constraints of the old CXC buildings, it might be advisable to either construct a new facility or utilize one of the other vacant Government buildings.

Legall added that the facility should have wheelchair access, adequate temperature-regulated storage space to keep the work in good condition, shopping facilities, as well as enough room to accommodate more than one exhibition at a time.

He gave an example of a recent exhibition by local artist Onika Small in the building formerly occupied by the Barbados Water Authority at the Manor Lodge Complex in St Michael, which featured
75 artists and utilized all three floors of that building.

Legall noted that a National Art Gallery Committee was set up about a decade ago, and held a few exhibitions featuring some of the work in Barbados’ national art collection. The committee eventually morphed into a board, on which Legall sat about four years ago, but he said not much seemed to have happened since.

He said the national art collection, some of which is on display in Government offices, is a rich one and a national gallery could generate substantial income through exhibitions, catalogues, souvenirs and prints.

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