Committed to the preservation of the past and development of the future of visual arts in Trinidad and Tobago, the National Museum launched its "1962 and 2012" 50th Independence art exhibition recently, honouring the past and present works of artists from Tobago and Trinidad.
"This extensive collection is a comparative exhibition which showcases a number of works dated from 1961 and 1962 and compares it to more recent works done by local artists around 2012," said Kwynn Johnson, curatorial specialist at the museum.
"Some of the pieces in this exhibition are permanent pieces from the museum. We get many students coming in to access various pieces to do research on the history of Trinidad and Tobago," she said.
The collection itself is like a walk down memory lane for some and, for those not born around that time, a glimpse into the past.
Upon entering the museum, there are various places in Trinidad and Tobago back in 1961 and 1962 that are highlighted. Some of these include Independence Square, the Port of Scarborough, the Coral Reef and Chancery Lane in Port of Spain.
To celebrate the country's 50th Independence Day anniversary, the National Museum added another component to the exhibition. This takes the form of an
Open Drawing Studio titled "The Future Generation". Led by James Hackett and a team of young illustrators of the We Does Draw Group, they will conduct live drawing sessions on various days during the five-week run of the show.
Johnson said, "The museum could not mount a 50-year show that covered the entire history of Trinidad and Tobago from 1962 up to 2012 due to limited space and decided to do a comparative collection instead. We got works from local artists that date back to 1961 and 1962 and more recent works which date three years prior to 2012. We tried to incorporate a little bit of everything. Physically it took a few weeks to get everything together but the exhibition itself took over ten years to achieve."
She said, "As you venture further into the exhibition you would see breath-taking drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and other displays done by artists such as Embah, Jackie Hinkson, Eddie Bowen, Bunty O'Connor, Sherlann Peters, Luise Kimme, James Armstrong and others that capture the beauty and soul of the people of Trinidad and Tobago."
Be it through a paint brush or a photograph - scenes like a Tobago wedding from long ago to more recent charcoal drawings that highlight prominent newspaper headlines three and four years ago—all serve as a remembrance to us of our history, Johnson said.
"We have 16 pieces from Tobago; 30 pieces dated from1960-1963; 62 current pieces from various local artists as well as a 1962 documentary," she said.
"The final component of this 50th Anniversary of Independence Art Exhibition is a catalogue and study of 50 years of art in Trinidad and Tobago, edited by writers Anu Lakan and Robert Clark. This publication both supports this exhibition but features a larger body of work," she said.
"Through this exhibition we hope this will encourage continued work by the younger generation and that way reaffirms the National Museum's role in supporting emerging artists' careers," she said.
The exhibition ends on September 29 and is open to the public: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.