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Watson lauded as cultural icon

Watson lauded as cultural icon

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February 07, 2016

THE Kingston College Chapel on North Street was not big enough to hold the family, friends and well-wishers who paid their final respects to master painter Barrington Watson yesterday.

Watson died on January 26 of complications from cancer. He was 85.

He was remembered for his contribution to Jamaican art as well as his generosity.

“We live in a time [in] which we are self-preoccupied and self-focused…Barry gave of himself selflessly and it is revealed in itself to the people of Jamaica,” said officiating minister, Rev Major Cannon Sirrano Kitson, in his homily.

In her tribute, Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna said Watson’s diverse themes climbed off canvases to stimulate, even provoke the inner reaches of the human mind and spirit.

“Professor Barrington Watson was a pioneer cultural icon in Jamaica. His impressive contribution to the art industry — local and international — carries such presence and impact that there have been numerous initiatives to capture the depth and breadth of his mastery,” she said.

Watson’s contemporary, painter Alexander Cooper, shared his thoughts with the Jamaica Observer about his friend.

“To me, he’s legend. Jamaica will not see that quality person in the next two or so decades. I saw him on his birthday recently and he asked me if I was still painting. I said no and he said: ‘When you go home, mek sure yuh crank up your brush,’” said Cooper.

“He’s an inspiration not only to his peers, but today’s youth.”

Born in Hanover, Watson attended Kingston College where he excelled at football. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London and continued his studies in Amsterdam and Spain.

He returned to Jamaica in 1962 and became the first director of studies at the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts (now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts).

Watson was awarded the Institute of Jamaica’s Gold Musgrave Medal and the Order of Jamaica for his contribution to art.

He is survived by his widow and four children.

— Brian Bonitto

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