Passage - Barrington Watson


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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MASTER artist Barrington Watson passed away at his St Andrew home in January. He was 85. According to his widow, Doreen, he died of complications from cancer.

"He was diagnosed with cancer last February. He got worse over the weekend... He wanted no chemotherapy, no radiation, no surgery. That was his wish," Mrs Watson told the Jamaica Observer.

Filmmaker Lennie Little-White remembered Watson as the quintessential artist.

"Back in the days, the arts had been something that people looked down on. Barrington Watson made art into a noble profession and gave today’s artists, especially painters in Jamaica, respectability. In doing so, he created the modern art movement in Jamaica," said Little-White.

Watson’s contemporary, painter Alexander Cooper, shared his thoughts.

"To me, he’s a 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.

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 Art (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.

Besides his widow, he is survived by four children.

— Brian Bonitto




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