The Letters of Margaret Mann

Paradise lost – A pastoral history and how we fockup de place

The Cazabon Mann collection, Port of Spain, Trinidad

At the National Museum in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the works by Margaret Mann and Michel-Jean Michel Cazabon are on exhibit. This is a collection of watercolours and gauche paintings of Trinidad executed during the 19th century. A student to Michel-Jean Michel Cazabon, Margaret Mann lived in Trinidad during the period, 1847-1851. The Cazabon Mann collection once belonged to the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, England, it was acquired by the National Museum in 2005 at auction at Christie’s. This is its first public viewing.

For art lovers of Cazabon’s work, this is a rare exhibition which can be relished to a Trinidad that once was. This is our history. The beauty of the lands and the richness of the flora shows how idyllic the place appeared, painted by Cazabon and his apprentice.

The port of Port of Spain, Trinidad

Jean Michel Cazabon has been criticized for placing straw figures in his compositions, whether this distracted or exposed his weakness as a painter, what is clear is that he has recorded parts of Trinidad’s landscape which is a remembrance of the island’s natural beauty, landmarks and of its European colonialism. Cazabon in many ways was an anthropologist who studied the manner of the period and left his fingerprint on works that will never be forgotten. The port of San Fernando is particularity beautiful as no one today would ever think.

Tessa Alexander’s shanty town of Sea Lots, Port of Spain

Contemporary landscape painters such as Jackie Hinkson, Karen Sylvester, Peter Sheppard, Peter Doig and particularly Tessa Alexander have attempted to idealized Trinidad and Tobago in a light that is a paradise fused by the harsh reality between what we rather want not to see apposed to what we want to see. These Painters have chosen to use this truth and others have not. The answers to art itself is how artists are capable of translating these experiences to leave a viewer, pondering, longing or just repulsed. As with the Margaret Mann collection’s large public turnout, this expressed the desire for a place they once loved.

Fisher women by Margaret Mann. Mann’s pictorial representation of the Negro looks more like men dressed as women. Her portraits are heavy and stiff.

This is an exhibition that should be seen, not that it is of Cazabon, but rather from a place we all came from. It stands as a reflection and testament to who we as in the present, to who we will be in the future. The Cazabon Mann collection at the Annex, National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago. For inquiries on the length of the exhibition, you can contact the Museum. A calender for 2009 related the collection is also available, and a hard cover book on the artists and period.

Cazabon Mann- collection by Danielle Delon
Hard cover – $350.00 TTD Soft cover – $295.00 TTD
Calender – $125.00 TTD

1 comment so far

  1. Joan Sutherland on

    Thanks for interesting information of The Letters of Margaret Mann. Is the book available for purchase in the UK? Thanks.

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