My humble beginnings – Vel.A.Lewis

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Dancer and Drummer depiction as the art the Astronaut Dance Company. The pencil drawing is by Wilcox Morris, Director of the Art committee of Tobago, 8 page, vol 2, no 8, June 1986

The newsletters, Action in the Arts produced for a Tobago audience by the present curator of the Museum of Trinidad and Tobago more than twenty years ago were wonderful, creative and hard working attempts by Mr. Lewis to keep the interest of art lovers on the smaller island. He tries to get a calendar of events going and he also tries to keep the cover that will be folded and posted interesting by using drawings.

Interview with the German / Tobagonian sculptor, Luise Kimme published in 1986 vol 2 no. 4

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Luise Kimme’s sculpture of Tobago in its people and culture

Climbing over huge logs, measuring with my arms, body, seeing Beryl, Maria, the Prophet, Shepherd, Nativity, sculpture inside the trees,hoping far long life, health and strength to carve them out, very excited. Meeting Riemenschneider 1510, and Plathias Gruenewald, sculptors from around the globe, from since we began.

Digging earth from gigantic roots, Soucouyant, played house in the same roots in Thuringen, where we had fled 1945 from the Russians, my father and his brother, both Nazis hid in the woods, my mother carried food for them in the night. We had been bombed out seven times in Berlin, and my father’s boat disappeared although he had buried it. Sweet smelling summers on silent river but not a dip of the paddle and birds, along tall grasses. My ear pressed to the radio, listening to foreign voices and music, great longing for the world.

At 16 I left Germany for England, au-pair in Vicar’s house. 1958 short-hand typist for German car company in London. Uery little money, lonesome, bought crayons and paper, drew ‘in London coffee bars , Jazz and lemon tea. Someone suggested I model at art Schools, I was shocked, but drew the other models in my break, big and bold. Got accepted at Berlin Academy, studied wood and stone carving.

I won two scholarships, post graduate studies at London’s then most avant-garde sculpture school, St Martin’s School of Art (King, Caro, Witkin). Did a big out-door commission, stayed 7 years. Taught all about – mainly at Wolverhempton Polytechnic 5 years. Was appointed Lecturer for Sculpture on a two year contract with renowned Rhode Island School of Design, America biggest private Art School, lived in New York Lower East side and life began.

Next appointment Associate Professor at University of. California. Enormous studio, fantastic assistants, space swimming pool trucks with tomatoes passing, endless wine, walnuts. I made large thin pots, glazed inside, painted Indian outside. Deserted Campus weekends, Chicanos, Mariatchi, stuck without a car, dangerous at night with a bicycle. Accepted call as Professor and Head of Foundation Studies at Diisseldorf Academy in 76, Still hooked on New York spending half the year there, then Jamaica for two years with stops in Haiti. Voodoo and art, Reqgae and Rastafari, too dangerous in both places, On my way to Surinam, studying maroon art (run away slaves, who retained their culture, totally abstract carvings and paintings hn paddles, boats and stools) stopped in Tobago to meet Albert Prince. We bought some chisels, made mallets, found wood and started to carve. At last, under a breadfruit tree in the Gully in Tobago, far far from academic demands on “modern” art, I dared do what I had always wanted to make figures.

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I was deeply impressed with Apollo in Rome,a Greek and an Etruscan, but was told these times were gone, I had to make what was appropriate now and figurative sculpture definitively out. little hints of freedom in the freezing factories in England, where I had my studios, making fiberglass blobs hanging from walls, ceiling, floor and in between, getting off the Pedestal, making environmental sculpture, Reggae bobbing from Pink and green houses and the market in Brixton, then I saw those beautiful boys and heavy dub.

In New York, too fast for carving of fiberglass sculpture then, Performance art and Concept art, immediate and the
process of the making were more important than the finished object, I made papier-mâché sculpture and painted patterns on large flattish circles, Traveled Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, discovered American Indian Art. More freedom in California – (in Germany, unthinkable for a serious sculptor to make pots) but Japan is close to the West Coast and the country is wide.

The Century comes to an end, and there is nothing new, and the new for novelties sake lost its bite, the youth recycles the fashion. We can excell in our abilities, and bring forth the creations of each person1s unique individuality.

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