The imposing figure of a stiltman, the iconic Barbados Landship, the local tuk band and iconic personalities such as the late patriarch of the Spiritual Baptist movement Archbishop Granville Williams. These are all elements of the award winning piece We Crop, We Culture by veteran artist Omowale Stewart.
During the official preview of this year’s Central Bank-sponsored Crop Over Fine Arts Festival, he was named as the recipient of the Governor’s Award of Excellence for his oil painting depiction of this year’s theme From Harvest To Home.
Stewart tells Bajan Vibes that when he was initially presented with the theme, he first saw it as a challenge to implement what he was doing all along “and also remember that this is the 40th year of the revised Crop Over, which he has been involved in from inception.
He eventually embraced the “wonderful opportunity” to do a repository of it and use the medium that in which he was most skilled, that of painting.
“I just took it to the max. I took it to the highest point and the piece itself, it became a very important piece of work in my whole collection of art,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Stewart, who been practising in the arts for the past 40 years, has seen what he calls an evolved arts landscape.
“It has evolved into a situation now where you have now a lot of confident, practising artists. I use that term because you don’t want to have artist by reputation or by name. If artists do not work ‘in the now’, it makes no sense being reflective of the work that they did before. I would say now that we have a fraternity of artists who actually create continuously and that is very exciting for me.
“As for the environment and its facilitativeness, in the context in which the visuals arts for example are done, [this] has changed and it has improved.
“A fine example is the opportunity that is going on currently where the Central Bank is going to sponsor a thematic art exhibition in all the broad areas of the art – two dimensional, three dimensional and craft.
“That is a real indicator that there is support for the arts. That leaves it up now up to the artist to use whatever resources and opportunities are made available.
“ We the artists just need to work. It is all about working. The ability to work continuously at it, because nobody asks you to do it. Rather, it is something that is driven and you have to take the responsibility to continuously create and produce your work regardless of the circumstances,” he stressed.