TT's first art master feted at Belmont House, UK
Photo: Garvin Nicholas, High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago to the United Kingdom delivering Cazabon welcome address
In the year of the bicentenary of his birth, Michel Jean Cazabon’s life and art were celebrated at a reception at the historic Belmont House on Saturday 6th July, 2013. The event, held under the patronage of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, UK, featured a viewing of Cazabon’s “Harris Collection” which was discovered at Belmont House by Trinidadian curator and conservationist Geoffrey MacLean.
Cazabon, widely regarded as the first great painter of Trinidad and Tobago, is internationally lauded for his 19th century watercolour paintings which depicted the idyllic landscapes and changing society of colonial Trinidad and Tobago. Mr. MacLean, who delivered the feature address, described the pivotal impact of Cazabon’s work in depicting the unique history and emerging identity of Trinidad and Tobago.
MacLean detailed the 1999 discovery of the “Harris Collection” of 44 Cazabon paintings, which belonged to Trinidad and Tobago’s 11th governor, Lord Harris. The collection was found at his family home on the Belmont Estate. MacLean oversaw the restoration of these paintings, which is now a popular attraction at this historic site.
A lunch of Trinibagonian fare, sponsored by Wendel Clement of Campbell’s Framing and Art of South Kensington, was enjoyed by all on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Faversham, Kent. One of the highlights of the afternoon was a reading by award winning writer Lawrence Scott from his critically acclaimed novel “Light Falling on Bamboo”. Cazabon’s colourful life was the inspiration behind the book, which illustrates the tale of his struggle to navigate the complicated post-emancipation period in Trinidad and Tobago.
His Excellency Garvin Nicholas, High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago to the United Kingdom, expressed his pleasure that Cazabon’s work and life story was being celebrated and unveiled to an international audience. He stated, “It is said that artists exist to show us the world. In this regard, Michel Jean Cazabon was a masterful exemplar. Trinidad and Tobago has spawned many artists who continue Cazabon’s legacy of illustrating the identity of our people on canvas. These include Hugh Stollmeyer, Boscoe Holder, LeRoy Clarke and Jackie Hinkson, to name a few. I am continuously impressed by our art community’s high level of talent and the tremendous creativity emanating from our shores”.