Musgrave awards for art
Mel Cooke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Two fine artists, Gaston Tabois and Gene Pearson, were among 12 persons awarded Musgrave Medals last Wednesday afternoon. However, Tabois was one of three persons not on hand to be presented with their medals at the Lecture Hall, Institute of Jamaica in Kingston.
Professor Terrence Forrester received a Gold Musgrave (Science), the Silver Musgrave awardees were Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Knibb and Jon Williams (Music) and Colin Channer (Literature). Joel Saddler and Dr Patrice Smith (Science) Warrant Officer Class 1 Albert Hird (Music) and Jean Small (Theatre Arts) were the Bronze Musgrave Medal honorees. Oswald 'Newton' Marshall earned the Youth Musgrave for Sports
Tabois received the Bronze Musgrave in 1992. The citation reads in part "by 1955, when he held his first one-man exhibition at the Hill's Galleries in Kingston, he was being hailed in some quarters as the heir to the acknowledged master of Jamaican 'Primitive' painters, John Dunkley ... . The label of 'Primitive' and later of 'Intuitive' however, did not sit well with Mr Tabois. He wanted to be considered as being in the line of masters."
By the time of his 1975 exhibition at the Bolivar Gallery, an announcement from the gallery would state: 'Since 1973, Mr Tabois has dropped his primitive style for professional realism.'
And, the citation reads, "in the nearly 20 years since the award of the Bronze Musgrave Medal in 1992, Tabois' work continues to be marked by ever greater and greater refinement".
Pearson's citation informs that his "ceramic and bronze sculptural work celebrates black beauty and dignity, which accounts for the popularity of his work in Jamaica and the African Diaspora cultural sphere. His style and subject matter are inspired by the arts of ancient Nubia, Benin and Rastafarian culture, and emerged in dialogue with the visual language of contemporaries, such as Christopher Gonzalez."
He also "sees the promotion of clay sculpture as his personal battle. Having, in his own words, fought to get some recognition for the clay, boycotting the National Gallery for years when they were at Devon House (when) they did not recognise the clay".
And he has been quite successful in this struggle, gaining greater recognition for local ceramics and ceramic sculpture as fine art and is today one of Jamaica's most sought-after and well-acclaimed artists.
CAPTION: Musgrave medal awardees at The Institute of Jamaica's awards ceremony last Wednesday pose with their medals and citations. From left are: Colin Channer, Gene Pearson, Jean Small, Lloyd Knibb, Professor Terrence Forrester, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, Jon Williams, Warrant Officer Class 1 Albert Hird, and Joel Saddler. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer