Barbadian Sculptor loses Cancer fight in Tel Aviv, Bill Grace in memoriam: Via – Damon Gerard Corrie & Therese Hadchity

{EDITOR’S NOTE: 2 Tributes – 1st? Damon Gerard Corrie‘s}

Yesterday, Friday the 13th 2014 turned out to be a day of sorrow in the end, as I got news that an old friend – famous Barbadian Artist Bill Grace – died in a hospital Israel, after fighting bravely against cancer for 30 years, his mortal remains will not be returning to the country of his birth Barbados – but will be interred in the Holy Land I have been told… in a way, it is fitting though…..what better place for an Angel who walked among us than to be buried in the Holy Land….I always remarked to my family, that I have never met a man who exuded pure peace and love as I experienced from Bill Grace…and I am sure many others who had the privilege to have met him in this life – feel the same way.

The first Computer I ever had was a GIFT from Bill Grace at a time when he had only just met me… who GIVES away a perfect computer to a stranger? Bill said he was giving me the computer because he saw what I was trying to accomplish and felt that I needed it more than him, and it would help me in my writing and the kind of work I was trying to do “…so true brother, so true…” that one gift basically opened ALL the doors I have walked through in my life in my Indigenous Rights work and article writing – since it was given to me almost 20 years ago.

Bill is survived by his lovely wife Shuah, son Shawn, son Paz (who's very name means 'peace'), and daughter Shara - all living in Israel.

{FACEBOOK IMAGE} Bill is survived by his lovely wife Shuah, son Shawn, son Paz (who’s very name meanspeace‘), and daughter Shara – all living in Israel.

{EDITOR’s NOTE: Therese Hadhity’s turn, now…}

The reflection of an artist’s disposition in his work can be direct or oblique.

For Bill Grace, it was unambiguous. His work and his life was about finding a centre, creating balance, making sense of chaos. This resoundingly hopeful, ever re-affirmed positive approach to the world, which permeated everything he did, was, as he once said, his take on Gramsci’s ‘optimism of the will’.

We met on the day I first delivered my daughter to pre-school, and when Barbados gradually started to feel like home, it was in large part due to his and Shuah’s friendship, warmth and open door. With its gate open to the roundabout, its festive arch of bougainvillea and Bill’s work greeting you from every corner, the yellow house in Blue Waters welcomed the world.

There were children and pets; a table, which always had room for one more guest; Shuah’s bread and Bill’s lemonade; conversations about any and everything; a special air of celebration when the kiln was opened. Sometimes, in parting, Bill would press a gift into your hands as a memento of a happy day. He gave generously and without calculation.

Inspired by the British potter Bernard Leach and the Japanese master Shoji Hamada, Bill wanted to merge his work with his family-life, so that his energies and commitments would be undivided. The cultural climate around him and the pressures of modern life were, however, not conducive to this vision and, though his extraordinary talent was widely recognized, life as an artist in Barbados was always difficult. Under such conditions, being true to one’s vision is challenging. There were times, when Bill’s work seemed a little less exuberant than others – the sparkling glass-pools at the centre of his mandalas would literally contract – but his work never suggested a loss of faith in his fundamental values. Without exception, his works are mediations on the cosmos, on energy, on mans connection with the earth, on the moment of convergence between nature and culture. Above all, they are evocations of his love of the world. Like music, they speak directly to the senses, leaving no one behind.

Inspired by the British potter Bernard Leach and the Japanese master Shoji Hamada, Bill wanted to merge his work with his family-life, so that his energies and commitments would be undivided. The cultural climate around him and the pressures of modern life were, however, not conducive to this vision and, though his extraordinary talent was widely recognized, life as an artist in Barbados was always difficult. Under such conditions, being true to one’s vision is challenging. There were times, when Bill’s work seemed a little less exuberant than others – the sparkling glass-pools at the centre of his mandalas would literally contract – but his work never suggested a loss of faith in his fundamental values. Without exception, his works are mediations on the cosmos, on energy, on mans connection with the earth, on the moment of convergence between nature and culture. Above all, they are evocations of his love of the world. Like music, they speak directly to the senses, leaving no one behind.

When he once, in the early days, referred to himself as an agnostic, he knew that this imposed an existential accountability on himself. Even if he may later have revised his position, Bill never took things lightly, and every choice he made was made with a deep sense of personal responsibility. He hesitated before big decisions, waited for a sense of ‘rightness’ to emerge. This was his special pact with the world, his way of staying close to his own centre, of leading the way towards his own vision of universal ‘oneness’.

Leaving Barbados was no small step for him, but when he left, he went whole-heartedly and impatiently, for Bill’s well-being was entirely, and increasingly, predicated on the presence of Shuah, Sean, Paz and Shara.

He will always be among us.

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