Natoo is Seabed’s ‘poster boy’

JAMAICAN visual artist Richard Nattoo took top honours in the International Seabed Authority (ISA) United Nations World Ocean Day 2022 art competition which culminated in a virtual event on Wednesday, June 9, in Kingston.

The 29-year-old won from among a host of entrants who made submissions across the globe. Second place was awarded to Sri Lankan research assistant Wanni Nayananjani Monarawila, while Brazilian biology undergrad Thammy Gularte Dias placed third.

The competition was divided into two categories, local and international. Both were under the theme ‘Deep-sea Exploration’, and focused on celebrating marine science and deep-sea exploration.

Submissions of drawings, paintings or digital designs were open to anyone over the age of 16.

“I did feel good, man, I did feel good,” said Nattoo, whose winning piece is aptly titled Deep-sea Exploration. He pocketed US$1,500 prize, and will have his artwork retained “to develop ISA’s 2022 greetings card and calendar”.

Deep-sea Exploration by Richard Nattoo which was awarded first place in the International Seabed Authority (ISA) United Nations World Ocean Day 2022.

“There’s this beautiful darkness and mystery that the ocean possesses, and I decided to create a piece that depicted just that,” the creative told the Jamaica Observer.

He explained the elements of his winning work during an official ISA featurette.

“There is a deep-sea rover, a shining light and the ocean floor in the background. These rovers are some of the tools used to explore the seabed. The how, why, where and who of the piece,” Nattoo explained, are the nuances that commit to capturing the essence of unexplored oceans.

Nattoo primarily works with watercolours on paper and is largely self-developed, having received his only formal art education at secondary level, where he matriculated grade 1s in CSEC and CAPE art.

Nattoo, who also authored the children’s book Ian Takes Flight, recounts his perennial devotion to the arts.

“Even though I wasn’t studying art, I was still exhibiting. I was exhibiting every year, because of a festival called Kingston On the Edge. Because of that festival I had an outlet to continuously exhibit my work. That art festival would happen at the end of every June. That was an integral part of my career, that helped with consistency, to continuously exhibit,” Nattoo explained.

Those events, he added, were his “version of a final-year show,” since he was in “religious school,” and not at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in St Andrew.

Nattoo — who also holds a degree from the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Jamaica — won the Kingston Creative-H&L gift card competitions in 2020 and 2021. He was also a beneficiary of CATAPULT COVID-19 Relief Arts Grant that provided cash or capacity-building support to creatives across the Caribbean.

““My life purpose affi raise di creative consciousness of the contemporary Jamaican,” he added.

Richard Natoo (Photo: Jodeane Bailey)

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