Michiel van Hout created the Holy Week Art Exhibition to help him find a space in the local art scene for his work. Michiel is a religious artist, and for him his work is a reflection of his faith. It is also part of his spiritual practice.
The Holy Week Art Exhibition was created because when he moved Trinidad, he found that religious art didn’t really have a space here, which he found very surprising considering how spiritual this country is.
The 2017 exhibition ended on Glorious Saturday, but I did a story on it for the C News Report, have a look
I really his geometric, stained glass-like paintings the best. Antonio Figuero’s paintings of the Cathedral and the Church of the Assumption were lovely as well, as was Rebecca Foster’s “Stations of the Cross”. I hope that some of these find spaces in local churches and homes very soon.
His 2017 presentation, Cazabon: The Art of Living was supposed to celebrate our heritage architecture and the period when those buildings, like the members of the Magnificent 7 were built.
The problems were present from the get go. Those buildings were constructed in the 20th century. While George Brown, the architect who designed the fret work that has become the hallmark of the gingerbread houses moved to Trinidad before Cazabon died, they had little interaction. So the association is messy.
But what really upset some people was the section La Belle Dame and Garçon de la Maison. The beautiful woman and the house boy. It glamourised a relationship where one of the partners, in this case the overly sexualised houseboy, wasn’t an equal partner, and probably couldn’t refuse the relationship if he wasn’t interested. Regardless of how beautiful his mistress may have been.
Earlier this week, the band leader held a Facebook live discussion where he apologised for causing offense and dropped the section.
I had an interesting conversation with a lecturer in Carnival Studies about this controversy, Trinidad Carnival’s history and society. I also spoke to the leading expert on Cazabon about this. I’m working on that piece now, and hope to have it ready for broadcast soon.
Alice Yard turns 10 this month. The yard used to be Sean Leonard’s great-grandmother’s home. Her name is Alice Gittens and she purchased the property in 1953, and instituted the open door policy that is a feature of the space today.
Sean is one of the directors of the Alice Yard. The others include Christopher Cozier and Nicholas Laughlin. He says the first 10 years of the project has been fun, and it will be interesting to see how long it can be sustained.
To celebrate Year X they’ve set up a series of installations across Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain and Belmont, including the Out of Place project with UK artist Blue Curry. Visit the Facebook page for details, the installations are in some unique spaces.
This imaginative book throws new light on the closing years of Caribbean slavery and the lives of enslaved people of African descent before emancipation in Trinidad in 1834. The book centres on the drawings of plantation life by Richard Bridgens, an English-born artist who became a planter and slaveholder in Trinidad, and examines these in […]
Raymond’s book was launched earlier this year during the Bocas Lit Fest, I missed her launched and readings then. Then the Carnival Institute hosted it’s Emancipation Lecture which featured Raymond talking about Bridgens work as an artist whose drawings of Pre-Emancipation Trinidad are used to illustrate Caribbean Slavery, but how he isn’t respected as an artist, and his work is often used without acknowledging his ownership.
I missed the Carnival Studies lecture, but I sent my cameraman to cover, and was able to watch it after and write a story based on her talk.
I was really taken with Raymond’s belief that we might be able to identify the people in Bridgens drawings, despite his limited skill. He wasn’t drawing imaginary beings, or representations. He was doing portraiture, and a detailed examination of the records may help us identify some of his subjects.
On Friday I got to see Michel-Jean Cazabon’s paintings for the first time. I mean his actual paintings, not prints in a book, his hardwork was before me and it was an experience. Because I was there for work I didn’t get to take them in the way I’d want to, so I’ll have to go back before the exhibition closes on the 25th September.
Last year Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced the purchase of 10 paintings from Trinidadian 19th century artist Michel-Jean Cazabon. Those paintings, and 39 others are currently on display at the Diplomatic Centre. Viewing is free but you have to register at the National Museum for tickets.
Also on display are some of the Margaret Mann paintings. Mrs. Mann was the wife of a British captain, she was tutored by Cazabon. As was common, she wrote many letters to her family describing in great detail her life in Trinidad during the years 1847 and 1851. 87 letters to be exact. Which offers a rare female-centred view of life in the Caribbean in the 19th century. Along with her paintings, we have a an unparalleled peek into life in Trinidad during that time.
Hopefully I have sparked your interest in everything Cazabon. If you want to learn more about him, do take advantage of the opportunity to see his work at the Diplomatic Centre. Also there are a lot of books available. Including Danielle Delon’s The Letters of Margaret Mann. Geoffery MacLean is the foremost expert on Michel-Jean Cazabon, he has written several including the official book accompaniment to the current exhibition called Cazabon Legacy. I think that they have settled on a price of $250 TTD. His older books include Cazabon: An Illustrated Biography of Trinidad’s Nineteenth Century Painter Michel-Jean Cazabon. The author Lawrence Scott’s Light Falling on Bamboo is the fictionalised retelling of the artist’s life, which is fascinating, to say the least. Geoffrey has shown me the divorce decree that Cazabon’s parents signed at the dissolution of their marriage.
There’s also Michel Jean Cazabon’s Book of Trinidad 1837, but at a bid price of $25,000 USD, it might be out of your reach.
More accessible is Gerard Besson’s detailed blog post on Cazabon, his life, his woes. You can read that here.
Moments like this make it seem that we’re getting better at valuing our history. In September, 2011 Citizens for Conservation restored his tomb in Lapeyrouse. According to Geoffery is could probably do with a touch-up, but it can be viewed. It’s on the 7th Street of the cemetary.