While it may be politic, and laudable to celebrate international conventions; it is far more important for us to inscribe our own history by recognising our important citizens, and celebrating our own artists regardless of gender. Artist Jackie Hinkson, at his recent sculpture exhibition in Soft Box Gallery shared the following advice from French philosopher Voltaire, “...cultivate your own garden”.
I was very pleased to see Sybil Atteck’s painting “Indian Festival” reproduced on the invitations and catalogue covers of this exhibition.
As a celebrated doyen amongst our more senior visual artists, Sybil would have been extremely pleased as well, especially if this event was a national commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of her birth. The centenary of this particular artist’s birth is certainly worthy of celebration.
Like several others, I owe much to Sybil’s encouragement and tutelage; she enrolled me as a ‘junior’ member of the Trinidad Art Society when I was 15 years old.
I therefore wish to pay homage to this gentle, sensitive, talented woman who in addition to being a great artist was also a generous, kind and caring teacher whose importance to this nation seems either not to be known or have been forgotten by the current crop of newly arrived movers and shakers.
Sybil devoted her life to the visual arts and to visual artists of Trinidad and Tobago. Along the way she singlehandedly founded the Trinidad Art Society in 1943, simply because she “wanted a society just for visual artists”.
She died in 1975. The TSA with a membership of almost 300 mainly visual arts practitioners changed its name in 2004 to the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT).
On this Centenary of Sybil Atteck’s birth, it would be a wonderful commemorative gesture if the Government of TT would fund the ASTT’s efforts to rebuild their Federation Park facility into a fully functional centre for visual artists and make the Sybil Atteck Centre for the Visual Arts a reality.
I take this opportunity to invite the Honourable Prime Minister and her Government, especially the Honourable Minister of Multiculturalism, to publicly pay homage to Sybil Atteck, TT citizen and visual artist of national significance, on this the one hundredth anniversary of her birth.
Audley Sue Wing