I promise myself again that I will not get so caught up in living that I shall forget my writing. It is just wrong. Mind you, sitting in traffic I write all the time. But by the time I get to a computer, the moment passes. And I work. Not tonight.
I’ve been thinking and talking to myself a lot about the artist in Saint Lucia. But I have jumped to the end too quickly. I had the privilege recently of working on a video production about the late Harold Simmons. We celebrated his life and perhaps only some in the crowd knew the real reason for his passing. I gathered it was neither from old age nor illness. But that is besides the point. While he lived, he seemed caught up and truly affected by the lack of interest and investment in the arts – visual arts – in Saint Lucia. He did not leave the island he so loved to pursue his own interests. He stayed instead, and tried to create a movement of truly creative people who would move the spirit of the [other] people, to appreciate and love the arts as much as he did.
Almost a half century after his death, I look for the monuments of his art. I want to hear them echoing in children at school; in the newly upgraded constitution park in downtown Castries. (Have we officially renamed it yet?) I long to see them in the recently built Serenity Park that sits along the John Compton Highway. Occasionally, okay maybe annually, something happens at Saamans Park, and if it rains, well, halleluiah!
Almost a half century after his death, when we tried to reconstruct the dream that Harold Simmons himself had tried to create, it was in a room half full of the usual suspects. The new blood does not flow through the arts as much as it should. We are almost bankrupt. We take to the streets in droves for 2 days during the carnival parade every year, and we are pleased to express ourselves in as little clothing as possible. Is this the new art? The public human expression of near nakedness? Is this how our spirit moves creatively?
A century after Harold Simmons’ birth, what do we really have that shows that we have learned from our past; that we can trust ourselves to deliver on the promise of the artist? There will always be the well known names that I can count on one hand; and those who will reminisce about the Arts Guild and those who were. Well what about those who are supposed to be now! Will we never have an arts guild that is today? What has happened to us? Have we really lost our way? Have we let the weeds overcome us so much? We have hung our spirits out to dry and we have forgotten to pick them up. Perhaps we will wait for the next half century to reel them in again. In the meantime, we will remember our Nobel Laureate – Literature 1992, in January, each year, for one or two weeks. This is the life of the artist; expressed among people who are just too busy, living.