In 1979 Jamaica was introduced to one of the greatest painters our island has ever seen. His talent has taken him far and wide, here and there and at no time has he heard anything but praise. With just a pencil and a blank paper, this master artist can make anything come to life. Whether its a spoon being drowned in expectation or a headless gentleman losing the gas he was filled with. Michael Elliott makes a statement with his hands that many couldn’t express with words.
Raised on a farm in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Michael has always been enthusiastic about art. He remembers starting experimenting with dry art at 6 years old. Luckily, Michael had parents who encouraged his talent. To continue his quest of developing his artistic skills, Michael took art-based subjects at the Wolmer’s Boys School. He also went on to register at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. At Edna Manley, he studied painting and his interest for photo-realism was developed.
Following art school, Michael developed an interest in the political and social affairs of Jamaica. Using the skills he gained from his extensive study, he used his art to bring light to these social issues. Examples of this can be seen in some of his series; particularly, ‘Donopoly, ‘The Devil’s Currency’, ‘Party Favours’ and his upcoming piece – ‘King of the Spoils’. Current affairs are not his sole focus, as he is also interested in nature – both animals and scenery as well as he does portraits and photography.
Straight Talk is a programme created by The Charles Hyatt Foundation which is geared towards students at the primary level. At the beginning of each school year, the students are asked to identify their passion. The foundation then creates an opportunity for students to meet with and learn from professionals who are successful in the area that the students are passionate about. This, in turn, expands their career choices as well as provide them with a blueprint on how they can become successful in that career path.
Several students expressed that they were passionate about art and desired to meet one of Jamaica’s greatest artist. Immediately, Michael came to mind. Both Mr Elliot and his work had the grade 6 students of Boys Town Primary in complete awe. It was a challenge convincing them that his pieces were actual paintings and not photographs – luckily he brought proof!
Not only did he share his journey with them, but he also did a live drawing of a lucky student. ‘The Grade Six Geniuses’ were left motivated and inspired to pursue their dreams and to work hard for what they desire. He also encouraged them to not be a product of their environment nor conform to the box that society might have put them into.