Home is where the art is

Barbadian art will finally find a home when the planned Barbados art gallery is built

Emergency: Arthur Atkinson, oil on canvas, 1969. Photograph courtesy the Barbados National Art Gallery CommitteeThe Careenage: Samuel Sealy, oil on canvas, 2003. Photograph courtesy the Barbados National Art Gallery Committee

In his “Boll Weevil Song”, Brook Benton described the nomadic lifestyle of that particular crop pest with the refrain, “Looking for a home”. The same can be said of the works in Barbados’s National Art Collection, which are now either in storage or on display in government departments and official residences.

That will change, as Barbados is about to establish a national art gallery. Legislation for the establishment of the gallery is awaiting parliamentary approval.

While it has not been decided which pieces the gallery will feature, the chair of the Barbados National Art Gallery Committee, Alissandra Cummins, commented, “We want to highlight the major developments within Barbadian art over the years, and we have looked at the approaches other galleries around the world have taken.”

The proposed site is a building on the outskirts of Bridgetown which now houses the Caribbean Examinations Council. Since this structure is part of the Garrison historic area, which Barbados wants to establish as a World Heritage Site, Cummins explained, “It’s important that we balance its historical integrity with the drive, energy and innovation of modern art.”

Some of the artists whose work will be featured in the national gallery are Arthur Anderson and his son Ewan, Samuel Sealy, Francis Griffith and David Gall.