JAMAICANS ARE renowned for boldness in their international strides. Trench Town native Winston Henry Eccleston is no different. He is an artist, who not only runs a successful gallery and framing centre, but also co- hosts the award-winning radio programme 'The Midnight Ravers' on WBAI RADIO 99.5 FM, in New York. He is also a profound poet, and one who gives back to society.
Sought out for his high intellect, Eccleston has garnered appreciation at all levels for his contributions and representations to charities and the art world. Among the awards he received are a citation from the City of New York and a Legislative Resolution from the State of New York. Above all, he ascribes his success to God - the source of his creative energy.
To uplift and promote Jamaican artists internationally, he shares through various associations, including the Flatlands Civic Association, USA, and the Trench Town Development Association and Culture Yard in Jamaica.
Eccleston holds memories of his treasured Trench Town community and reminisces in 'Trench Town Gully Wall' and 'Single Room', of two popular spots. Growing up, he played sports, lymed and developed the bone of his character with friends such as Vincent 'Tata' Ford (mentor), Pulus (cricketer), Georgie, Fabian O'Connor, Archie Reid (footballer), Les Brown (footballer), Barrington Sales (original foundation Wailers), Everton Phillips and Bob Marley (musician).
New movement in art
Eccleston's strong visual expressions may be the dawn of a new movement in art. His joint works aesthetically theorise the transmigration of the human family. He is caught in the web of combined influences from the Columbus period, - the Arawak, Spanish, British and African to now - on Jamaica's development, and his work unfolds with all the freshness of the contemporary world. To 'walk away from the old tradition to establishing the new' is key as he philosophises art as a continuum of the building up of cultures and new expressions, beyond set periods, giving birth to new movements.
Currently, the artist who went on to Pratt Institute in New York, in 1974, after graduation from Jamaica School of Art, (EMCVPA), opines that Jamaican artists have been 'tailor-made to carbon copy European Art'.
Artists should be 'well-rounded' experiencing the entire range of fine arts, yet developed individually, and Jamaican art, like reggae music, should not be streamlined, but rather be 'raw and uncut', says Eccleston. He hopes that Jamaicans will one day fuse together the many influences on local culture to produce unique and impacting visual art worldwide. Feeling most comfortable with famous artists like Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and the modern movement, he leads by a radical example.
In true Picasso-style, Eccleston is versatile and prolific in his explorations. Like an onion, his art are a layer by layer narration of his experiences of several cultures including Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.
His 30-year body of work is spiritually intense, and protracts an immanent force of energy.
With his bold acrylics and watercolours, his complex personality and ideologies radiate from a platform of joy and laughter. In one of his self-portraits, 'The Thinker', Eccelston symbolises the intellectual outflow of his pensive nature. Family is depicted in 'Child Nutrition' - a mother nourishes her baby as the father and other child look on. Consciousness, physical and spiritual transfusion are borne in 'The Guitar Player' as well as in 'Lover's Meditation' at the National Gallery.
In 'The Guitar Player' lines and blue tones are used rhythmically to feature the oneness of the strumming musician with his guitar to provoke consciousness.
'Ethereal Woman' examines the thought pattern of a person from birth to adulthood, who in the end ponders on what life is all about, as well as assimilated religions. The person depicted muses on life's extension into the afterlife, hoping for something beyond the mundane physical experience.
Other subjects and themes are 'Celestial Woman', 'Jamaican Coat of Arms', 'Obeah Woman', 'The 10th Door' 'Miscegenation', 'Plumage of the Proud', 'Cosmic Warrior', 'Morning, Noon and Night'. The works explore spiritual objectivism, subjectivism, ancestral and religious messages, adding depth and colour to his expressions in visual art and verbal poetry. Jamaica's motto 'Out of many, one people' is the focus of 'Festival Dance/Carnival' exploring the cultures (e.g., of Europe, Spain of Italy, Indians, Chinese) influencing the New World.
In the majority of the contemporary collection, the forms are free and lacking strict anatomical structure to deliberately emphasise the messages of the strong-minded artist.
Largest online gallery
He currently opens doors for artists to exhibit their work in New York, and is engaged in establishing the largest online gallery of Jamaican and Caribbean artists. A major challenge for Eccleston is maintaining discipline in creating balance between his self expression and the clients' needs. He also criticises the 'chosen' few Jamaican artists in Jamaica who attempt manipulating what and whose art should be accepted.
Through his poetry he encourages Jamaican artists to be true to themselves then to the world. See more at www.iartigallery.com.
Anthea McGibbon, a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, has over 10 years experience in the fields of visual arts and journalism. Contact her at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.