Saturday, 15 September 2012 02:30
By D Francis
Antigua St. John’s - Archaeologist Dr. Reginald Murphy is calling for a national art gallery to be erected on the island to house the works of the country’s late greats of the art world.
He made the comments on the heels of the passing of one of Antigua & Barbuda’s advocates ET Henry who has spent most of his life promoting the preservation of the country’s heritage and history.
Speaking to caribarena.com, Dr Murphy who has worked with Henry for quite a number of years stated, “There is a need for a national art gallery with all our late artists for the youth to see and learn. Pamela Wright, Babs Brown, Thousand’s Copper Work, E T Henry and others -- where is the work today?”
Dr. Murphy who is deeply involved in historical preservation, restoration and environmental issues, said Henry started around 1988 as an in-house artist and government go-between for the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda.
When asked how best the country can remember the life and times of Mr. Henry, he suggested: “Collect pictures of his paintings and produce a book of them; also, mount an exhibition of his art, model boats, carvings and paintings at the museum. Producing publications, documentaries and books will definitely help members of the public, especially the younger generation, to learn and appreciate the work and value of this great man.”
E T, as he was affectionately known, has touched the lives of many in a number of ways. The late Desmond Nicholson and his wife Lisa were no exception, especially in relation to the growth and development of the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda.
Mr. Nicholson has been a driving force in helping Antigua & Barbuda to record its rich history on paper for many decades.
It became one of his aims in life to research and record all he knew about Antigua & Barbuda, and as such, his motto was “Knowledge to be of any value must be communicated”.
Caribarena.com got in touch with Lisa, who shared,”I’ve only just recently heard the news...so it's hard to find adequate words to express my feelings...
However, after a brief moment she added, “I don't really remember how or when Desmond and E T met, but it was certainly many years ago and they had the closeness of brothers as they thought about the Island's heritage and how it could best be presented and honoured through the museum.”
Mrs. Nicholson continued, “The great thing about this relationship with my husband was that E T had the first-hand knowledge, education and experience, having been born and bred here, while Desmond had the enthusiasm and wider perspective of being an "expatriot" wanting to learn about the Island's heritage so as to share it with the general public. They made a wonderful team.”
She fondly recalled E T's unwavering loyalty to the cause of the museum that even when he was in such frail health in recent years, he came out and participated in the functions.
Mrs Nicholson said the best way to honour E T Henry would be for someone to do a biography of his life, including many prints of his artwork. She said perhaps this could be published under the auspices of the D V N Fund.
“I would like him to be remembered with love and respect for all he has done in his quiet way over the years. Thank you, E T,” Nicholson said.
In commenting on the importance of preserving Antigua & Barbuda’s rich heritage, Mrs Nicholson said: “It would be wonderful if both the government and the private sector could do more to preserve the Island's heritage, but these are tough economic times. We must just all pull together to treasure what we have, educate the young to realise how important it is and hope that the momentum will gradually gather in the years ahead so that better appreciation and preservation can be achieved eventually before anything further is lost through carelessness.”
And about his paintings, she share, “I love E T's paintings. They are delicate and sensitive, and portray many things that are no longer around.”
She also thinks the best way for the museum to honour him would be to host an exhibition of his works, both artistic and scholarly, and have an evening event to celebrate his life.
Meanwhile, the curator of the museum, Michell Henry, in recounting one of her most memorable moments said:
“Whenever students from the primary to tertiary level visited the museum, I always enjoyed watching E T speaking to them about Antigua & Barbuda’s history. He always reminded them about being passionate about the country’s values, educate themselves and maintain and safeguard the country’s environment and cultural patrimony.”