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Five Voices of Earth from Tobago

By Anne Hilton Monday, July 27 2009

Tobago holds centre spotlight in the arts this week with “Voices of Earth”, five gentlemen painting in Tobago holding a joint exhibition in The Gallery at Fine Art that opened on July 21, and “Espresso”, five gentlewomen artists of Tobago doing the exact same thing in a joint exhibition that (at the time of writing) is due to open for coffee (hence the name of the exhibition) and art at 10 am on the morning of Saturday July 25.

Unfortunately for Fine Art and the Tobagonian “Voices of Earth”, July 21 was the day when Port-of-Spain ground to a halt due to TTEC’s generating problems.

In fact the power was only restored to the Gallery 90 minutes before the opening. Many of those invited presumed the opening had been cancelled; there were but a mere dozen (if that) apart from the artists themselves by the time I left the show.

Young artists often have a mentor, an older artist to guide their steps and point them in the right direction — from which the maturing artists branch (or should branch) out on their own, exploring the world around them, trying out new subjects, techniques, etc.

Whether he realises it or not, Jason Nedd is still influenced by the work of Martin Superville. Pleasant as “The Dancer” (why, one wonders, the singular in the title when there are clearly two dancers? Or was that a typo in the catalogue?) … where was I? Ah yes, pleasant as “The Dancer” is, it still echoes the work of Superville. It is more than time Nedd branched out on his own, explored new genres, new subjects, new techniques.

I had trouble deciding which of Earl Manswell’s work to photograph for Newsday, almost photographed “Bamboo Path Leaves” (a delightful watercolour), almost took a shot of an oil? acrylic? of a man gazing into the distance while water from a hose resting on an oil drum flowed freely, and “finally settled for “Lambeau Bridge” a near-photo realist piece that pleased me because it brought back memories of holidays in Tobago.

Tomley Roberts piece “Lambeau Hut” is a competent piece, par for the course even though the “hut” is uncharacteristically well maintained. (Why is it that in paintings we prefer the old, slightly shabby and timeworn to spanking new buildings the world over?).

Herman Charles’ work reminds one of schoolroom illustrations of (in this case) a hospital — in fact the hospital at Scarborough looking far more neat and tidy than I’ve ever seen it.

However, it’s a piece that has its own charm with the off-duty nurses, a mother restraining her child running after a ball rolling under the ambulance …

Finally, in “Ms Amanda” Nazim Baksh had a dancer of a very different genre from Jason Nedd. I liked the joie de vivre of this piece that looked spontaneous rather than choreographed, the flow of the skirt, the head tilted, the arms flung back.

I only wish that, positioned high up on the wall as it was, I’d been able to get a better shot of this piece.

“Voices of Earth”, a joint exhibition of work by five gentlemen from Tobago, continues in The Gallery at Fine Art until Friday July 31.

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