“Saving Seeds” unveiled – in observance of UG’s 50th anniversary

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport,
14 July 2014, Guyana

Saving Seeds is an art exhibition displaying art work by staff members of the Division of Creative Arts, University of Guyana in observance of the 50th anniversary of the institution.

This particular exhibition has on showcase work by Philbert Gajadhar, Winslow Craig and studio assistant, Dwayne Alexander.

In his remarks the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony lauded the work of both artists. He recalled the efforts by Gajadhar and Craig in curating the art exhibitions when Guyana hosted Carifesta X. At that festival the artists used their skills to transform the Gymnasium and the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) into art galleries because the National Art Gallery was overwhelmed.

Minister Anthony explained that much of Craig’s work was at the GICC and many of the visitors were in awe by what they saw. “A lot of the persons from the Caribbean did not expect the quality of art, the high standards and diversity of the pieces…from that exhibition we have created a lot of respect throughout the Caribbean and even further afield,” he said.

The Minister highlighted that Gajadhar and others, like Bernadette Persaud, have been at the forefront to bringing out the values of Hinduism. He also noted the cross-over of the pieces done by Gajadhar. “In a multicultural society we need to promote that multiculturalism and we can do it at different levels…art is one of the ways that we can display this multiculturalism,” he said.

Minister Anthony indicated that the Ministry is pleased to partner with the University which has seen the Ministry benefiting tremendously from the expertise of people like Philbert Gajadhar, Winslow Craig, Alim Husein and Al Creighton among others.

The Minister announced that the National Art Gallery is available for future exhibitions by the University. It is hoped that there will be yearly exhibitions.

The Registrar of the University of Guyana, Vincent Alexander in his presentation stated from the onset that the University is very proud of the Creative Arts Department, even more so in light of the institution’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“What you see before you is in some regards demonstrative of the growth of the University itself,” he said. Alexander added that in light of what is said about the University in the media the exhibition is reflective of the hard work of the lecturers and the Department.

Alexander recalled the current financial situation of the University where calls are made for the discontinuation of courses which do not attract large number of students. He pointed out that while Creative Arts is one of those programmes that does not attract large numbers of students it still has great value in the artful expression of social and other issues. It is therefore important for the Department to survive, in this regard, Alexander called on Minister Anthony to assist.

He commended Gajadhar and Craig for their efforts in putting together the exhibition which melts the expressions and experiences of the artists into one mien.

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr. Paloma Mohamed recognized Gajadhar and Craig as the greatest contemporary artists Guyana has produced. “Their work is phenomenal, exceptional, vibrant and quite exciting, and we at the University are very privileged to have them right here in their home country producing for us and sharing their achievements,” she said.

Dr. Mohamed reiterated the call made by the Registrar for support for the Creative Arts Department. She added that the presence of the two artists cannot be overstated, this is in light of the fact that many other Universities have been courting the artists for some time now.

With regards to the University’s 50th anniversary, Dr. Mohamed noted that the exhibition illustrates the kind of story the institution wants to tell.

In the overview of the exhibition, Akima McPherson – Lecturer, Division of creative Arts, University of Guyana explained that Gajadhar’s work is influenced by studies on the Bemba culture, ceremonies and life.

She highlighted that both Gajadhar and Craig are stellar artists in painting and sculpture, respectively. Each has shown work numerously in Guyana and further afield, each has won awards and are national awardees, and each has contributed significantly to the diverse and rich character of art in Guyana through individual output as well as, in the case of Gajadhar, the organizing of numerous exhibitions for the national and regional sphere.

This collaboration between the two artists for ‘Saving Seeds’ makes it a significant exhibition as it presents a significant body of work from each of the artists for the first time in a number of years.

‘Saving Seeds’ seeks to address the artists concerns for the loss of the functional family unit by proposing and celebrating traditional structures, practices and values. Each uses personal experience as a point of reference notably those resulting from fathering and partnering. While Gajadhar proposes a model steeped in tradition intended to safeguard against counter-productivity in womanhood, Craig proposes a model for sons in meeting the responsibilities of manhood.