CULTURAL icon and Trinity Cross recipient Pat Bishop has died.
Bishop, 71, passed away yesterday afternoon after she collapsed during a meeting in Port of Spain with Minister of Planning, Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, masman Peter Minshall and a number of her cultural colleagues.
Bishop, who had complained earlier in the day of chest pains, collapsed during the meeting of Government's High Level Expert Panel to Guide the Implementation of Arts, Cultural and Entrepreneurial Projects and Patriotism Project, at the Ministry of Planning at the Eric Williams Finance Building, Independence Square, Port of Spain.
She was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital.
Bishop, who was perhaps best known for directing the Lydian Singers and the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, died around 5.20 p.m. at the hospital.
The panel, of which Bishop was a part, consists of a number of members of the arts and culture community.
Tewarie told the Sunday Express last night that the panel met for about three-and-a-half hours before he was called in for further discussion.
The panel had held its final meeting before finishing a report on building institutions and identifying cultural projects on artistic developments.
It was while Minshall was speaking, Tewarie said, that Bishop suddenly "pulled up" into her chair and collapsed.
Head of the Artists Coalition, Rubadiri Victor and Dr Kiran Akal rushed to Bishop's side and tried, unsuccessfully, to revive her.
Others in the room were at the same trying to get an ambulance to the building, Tewarie said.
The ambulance arrived 20 minutes later.
It was another 20 minutes or so before the ambulance arrived at the Port of Spain General Hospital, where Bishop was admitted through the Emergency Department.
Doctors on duty were not able to revive Bishop and have so far diagnosed the cause of death as a combination of a heart attack and stroke.
An autopsy is to be performed tomorrow.
"This is monumental loss to the country," Tewarie said yesterday. "Pat has been not only an independent thinker but a cultural contributor of the highest order."
Tewarie said he did not have the pleasure of seeing Bishop often but they got along very well.
When Tewarie was being inducted as Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine campus in 2001, he asked Bishop to take charge of the programme.
"She was the one who did the cultural part of the installation ceremony," Tewarie said. "So personally, it is a loss."
Offering condolences to Bishop's family, including her sister, jewelry designer Gillian Bishop, Tewarie said efforts will certainly be made to have Bishop's "tremendous" work documented and remembered.
In an earlier statement, Tewarie's Planning Ministry said Bishop spent her life as an artist and as an activist in the creative community in Trinidad and Tobago.
She was from time to time outspoken on issues related to culture and the arts and was on of the country's most independent thinking citizens, the ministry said.
A saddened Rubadiri Victor yesterday described Bishop as "one of the greatest Caribbean citizens ever".
"She was a magnificent Trinidad and Tobago gift to the universe," he said.
"She was a complete renaissance woman.
"She was also one of our greatest cutlural theorists, curators and teachers. She is irreplacable, we have just lost an entire university."
Victor said Bishop was a "mother and mentor" to thousands of creative people, who must now work to realise her dreams for this country.
"This is tragedy of epic proportions because in her last years, Pat was not allowed to lead the creation of those institutions that would have made a difference to our Republic. Pat died battling for the realisation of a vision of that shining, golden Trinidad and Tobago, which is rooted in our unique, cultural genius. She leaves behind us, thousands of her children, to win this battle in her name."