Bishop had been attending a meeting of the High Level Expert Panel to Guide the Implementation of Arts, Cultural and Entrepreneurial Projects and the Patriotism Project, at the Ministry of Planning and the Economy in Port-of-Spain, when she collapsed.
She was assisted by the members of the panel at the meeting and rushed to the emergency facility at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive her. The preliminary cause of death was said to be a stroke and heart attack.
Veteran masman Peter Minshall emotionally summed up the essence of Bishop’s passing in a single, poignant statement last evening: “Imagine if you had gone every day of your life for a walk around the savannah and one day, you went for your walk and the Northern Range wasn’t there.”
Minshall, who was at the meeting as well, and was very close to her, could say no more to Sunday Newsday.
Planning and Economy Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, who was also present when Bishop collapsed, said her death was a real loss not only to the panel, but to the country as well.
“The country has lost an immense talent. She was a pioneer in the arts and a gifted professional and we’ve lost a real icon,” he said.
Expressing his disbelief, masman Brian MacFarlane said he was shocked when he first learned of Bishop’s passing yesterday.
“It is a great loss, a woman who has contributed so much to culture, her expertise in pan especially. I know she was now preparing for another art exhibition. It is such a great loss and I started thinking of all the prominent and artistic people that have left us this year, Wayne Berkley, Allison Hennessy ... she held such a wealth of knowledge in culture and art and Carnival so it is very sad for the entire country, a sad day,” MacFarlane said.
Chief Justice Ivor Archie, who was a member of the Lydian Singers, of which Bishop was the director, was out of the country when the Sunday Newsday tried to contact him. However, Archie, who returned to Trinidad late last night, sent a text message to manager, Court Protocol and Information Unit, Jones P Madeira, conveying his condolences to Bishop’s family and friends.
“The Chief Justice was extremely shocked and quite distraught on hearing the news. He felt that Pat’s contribution was so immense to culture and the arts in Trinidad and Tobago that it was very difficult to pay tribute to her in just a few words,” Madeira relayed.
He said Archie hailed Bishop’s outstanding and unparalleled work in the world of culture and the arts, and felt the best way to honour her legacy was to continue to advocate for things that she stood for and expressed so well in her field. Madeira said the CJ looked back at her contribution to music, development of the steelband, her association with Witco Desperadoes, the Lydians and her sculptures.
“He wanted to extend his deepest condolences to the family, her friends and all who knew her and benefitted to her vast contribution to Trinidad and Tobago,” Madeira said.
Bishop was the holder of TT’s highest national award — The Trinity Cross, now the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago — for her efforts in the pursuit of scholarship, culture, the arts (in particular painting and music), and service to her country in fields as diverse as environmental education, government economic policy and the development of Carnival.
She directed the Lydian Singers in at least 30 concerts a year and had been conferred with the honourary degree in literature from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine in 1994. Bishop was a national scholarship winner from the Bishop’s Anstey High School. She proceeded to King’s College, Durham University, where she studied art. After completing her degree, Bishop returned to Trinidad where she taught art at her alma mater for several years.
But this was not enough for this versatile and talented woman. She went on to UWI’s Mona campus where she subsequently received her MA in West Indian History. She lectured history at UWI at both the Mona and St Augustine campuses for some eight years and was also a lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the Jamaica School of Art from 1970 to 1972.