Last year, the “woke” army in Trinidad spent a ample bulk of time and accomplishment authoritative a case for the abolition of statues of actual abstracts beyond the island.
It was allotment of the all-around abutment for the Black Lives Amount movement that acquired anarchy in the United States, breadth protesters defied Covid restrictions and rioted and broke business districts, afore a favourable presidential acclamation aftereffect quieted them.
By then, hundreds of monuments and memorials associated with America’s bondservant and amalgamated history had been defiled, removed or relocated.
In Trinidad, activists petitioned for the renaming of streets and highways, and the abatement of the statues of Christopher Columbus in Port of Spain and Gran Chemin, Moruga.
Replace these monuments with heroes of our own—First Peoples, political, cultural, sporting, abounding urged.
A accomplished lot of annihilation happened in the end, except that Columbus absent an arm, addition got abroad with spraying a “f… Gary” assurance on Cipriani’s statue, and the Mayor of Port of Spain brushed off the 8,000-strong address as a amount for civic debate.
There was no civic debate.
But if we anytime accede to bless our own, we already accept the sculptures, added than a hundred.
They are sitting in the bushes alfresco a tapia abode in a aback alley at New Village, Point Fortin.
The pieces are the assignment of Samuel Walrond, who died seven years ago this month.
When the Express batten with him four months afore his death, he was 94, blind, and still creating.
And back we visited a few weeks ago, all the things he created were still there, waiting.
Time stands still
The abode is like a time capsule.
Nothing appeared to accept been adapted or confused back the 1980s, back his apparition began failing.
Walrond was primarily a sculptor and his medium, accurate on wire forms formed with hand-made tools. He additionally did metal work, and congenital electrical gizmos to accompany to activity creations that accept afflicted those who accept apparent them.
So massive was his accession of work, from life-sized to miniature, that it has agitated into the advanced yard, earthen arena floor, active room, porch, bedroom, dining allowance and kitchen.
His assignment traced important events, both bounded and international.
He had busts or statues of American amateur Sidney Poitier, United States Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and boxer Mike Tyson, all fabricated at the time these bodies were in the news.
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He sculpted parang queen Daisy Voisin, Sir Solomon Hochoy, Hasely Crawford, Gary Sobers, Papa Bois and Mama Dlo of folklore, and the murtis of Lord Ram, Mother Lakshmi, Sita and Rawan.
The statues allotment amplitude with stick-fighters, Dr Eric Williams and a headless amount of hero of the Baptist acceptance backward Archbishop Elton Griffith. They are all disregarded by a soucouyant and attentive by accurate dogs mating, and by monkeys and chickens. There are at atomic 60 pieces about the house.
Samuel Walrond’s property, as it was in 2014.
Photo: Dexter Philip
There are dozens of miniatures on a table in the porch—his workshop.
The abstracts trace the history of pan, from tamboo bamboo in the ’30s to breadth it is today (he has a arena breadth the Pope is alert to pan).
Among Walrond’s finest assignment was the “Caribbean Man”, a huge arch aloft a tiny body, absolute motors and apparatus (mostly scavenged from a bicycle) which accustomed the eyes to ablaze and the amount to move.
The anatomy represented the baby admeasurement of the Caribbean territories; the arch symbolised that we were big thinkers with abundant to accord the world.
‘Something consistently erupts in me’
Of his talent, Walrond told us: “I had no academic training. I feel like a bogie addled me with that. All forth my life, I accept been authoritative my creations. I cannot be at peace. Article consistently erupts in me. Article volcanic. Do this, do that. If I don’t do article for today, I feel I ain’t do nothing. It is in me.”
A man could be rich, but afterwards a faculty of purpose would consistently be small, he said.
Walrond said he aboriginal began authoritative figurines at age ten in his hometown Ste Madeleine, at a time back his parents and grandparents were farmers active abreast what is now the Usine Ste Madeleine amoroso factory.
He ancient Christian saints, in amid active the railway curve dressed in his father’s old shirts, disposed to the family’s donkeys, sheep and dupe at a time back a brace of alpagat (shoes) amount 36 cents and you were affluent if you wore shoes to school.
He acclimatized in Point Fortin to chase the oil, alive at United British Oilfields of Trinidad (UBOT), again at Shell as a machinist, affective from one ability to addition until his retirement at age 64. But abstraction was added important than annihilation else, and abounding artists would agree.
Walrond’s aftermost big activity afore black bankrupt in was the apprehension of himself and of Barack Obama.
And in his final days, he fabricated bank plaques shaped like angle “because I accept to abide work. I cannot stop”.
Even afterwards activity blind, he connected to create.
One of Walrond’s four children, son Rex Bobb, is in allegation of what has been larboard behind. Bobb, a Petrotrin blaze fighter (who forth with asleep brother Renroy Bobb acquired some of his father’s talent), has been allocation the items larboard abaft at the house. It was a home Bobb, his three ancestors and mother lived in until he was ten, back his parents separated, and his ancestor became absorbed in the work.
Said Bobb: “My ancestor saw art in everything, in every atom of metal. And he disposed of nothing. There were things I begin I never knew he had done.
“He has a bean blind fabricated from seeds he begin in the backyard. Containers to abundance abrade and alkali and amoroso for the kitchen done so well, you would anticipate it was from a store.
“He was additionally a clothier so he had clothes stored abroad he never wore, and bolts of bolt blimp everywhere. The electric lamp we acclimated growing up, he fabricated from milk tins. He did his assignment with accoutrement he fabricated himself. And anniversary allotment had a story.”
Bobb said his ancestor was able to advertise some of his work. There was an exhibition in 1997 at Long Circular Mall in St James. But sculptures and busts would generally be commissioned, again forgotten.
And there is additionally a letter kept by Walrond from the San Fernando borough board in 1974, cogent Walrond that while they had been blessed to affectation his amazing work, they had no money to buy anything.
One was addressed to the Siparia Regional Corporation in 1973, breadth he acclaimed his sculptures of TUB Butler, George Weekes, acclaimed Barbadian biographer George Lamming and Sir Frank Worrell, which, Walrond suggested, would attending abundant on a basement in the area.
And accord from 20 years ago, back he pleaded that the Point Fortin politicians advice him advance a building at the site.
Leaving a legacy
“So you are welcome, my baby gentlemen, to my paradise of art,” said Walrond that day we visited, afore he calmly gave a history of who we were; our Carnival; absent culture; assuming the characters already played by masqueraders; the ass in the lion’s skin, or the chase horse Rastafari, the aboriginal West Indian-bred horse to win the Governor’s Cup, in 1940.
Then Walrond cried.
He said abounding pieces of art were actuality preserved in Port of Spain, but not his work. He said the works of others were actuality placed on pedestals and walls in the capital. But bodies had abandoned that he fabricated the statues of the panman at the alliance of Coffee and Cipero streets, San Fernando; Marcus Garvey at Harris Promenade; or the Butlers in Fyzabad.
The politicians had beatific abounding bodies to his home to archive and question. Added came from The University of the West Indies, art advisers and acceptance all afraid by his work.
Samuel Walrond, in the final year of his life. Photo: Dexter Philip
In the dining allowance is Dwight Yorke, in his Soca Warriors compatible from the Apple Cup finals of 2006, and Yorke’s accomplice in life, Russell Latapy (I accept his arch and limbs. I aloof charge advice now to accumulate everything) and Brian Lara assertive to hit one to the boundary.
“This shouldn’t be hidden. This should be exposed. Tourism could accept had this in Tobago and it would accept admiring added bodies to see,” said Walrond.
Asked what he capital for his art, Walrond said then: “The celebrity that is Rome. Tell them what you saw here. This should be shared. It is time. Let me alive to see my sacrifice.”
NOTE: The Walrond ancestors has been speaking with the Point Fortin Borough Corporation for years for the acreage to be preserved as a museum. They accept it a applicable accolade to one of our own.
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