Celebrating Eight Decades, NCF will be hosting a retrospective exhibition of Goldie Spieler’s work at Pelican Craft Centre on Saturday 27th August, 2011
Goldie Spieler contributed much to the field of Barbados’ educational arena. She taught watercolours at the Barbados Arts Council, as well as Art in secondary schools. Most of all she shared her talent through her almost annual solo exhibitions in Barbados and abroad.
Her father agreed to pay for her to study Design at Ontario College of Art, where she specialized in Design and Weaving from 1949-54.
On graduation from Ontario College of Art in 1954, her parents gifted her with a loom. She met her husband Ted Spieler shortly after graduation and they were married in February 1955. Her husband was involved in his family’s business, Universal Confectionary, and to her surprise, they assumed that Goldie would be part of the business. As the family had a great deal of influence on the couple’s life, Goldie became Production Manager. She left her job once her son David was born, which also gave her more time to paint.
To alleviate her boredom with her job and to maintain her artistic life, Goldie joined various amateur art groups and attended art classes. She continued her studies in Graphic Design with James Boyd in Ottawa from 1956-59. In 1958, she studied Painting with Henri Masson, who was an outstanding watercolourist; these classes continued until 1964. During this time her work was developing and she won several awards.
Her close friend Lionel Hutchinson, who was the Parliamentary Librarian and a writer, introduced her to many of the major Caribbean writers; Sam Selvon, Kamau Brathwaite, Austin Clarke, Andrew Salkey and others. She participated in the first Caribbean Festival of the Arts in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1972; her friend Andrew Salkey mentions Goldie in his book on that first CARIFESTA, ‘Georgetown Journal’. Lionel Hutchinson also drew her into the world of major political figures of the time, such as Prime Minister Errol Barrow.
The strains which developed in her marriage eventually led Ted and Goldie to separate. Tragically he died unexpectedly of a heart attack in October 1965. Her husband’s death and its aftermath was one of the most distressing times in the 34 year old Artist’s life. To recover from this horrific experience, in December she was encouraged by friends to join them on holiday to recover to somewhere warm and completely different, Barbados.
1965 was a pivotal year in the life of Goldie Spieler. In March/April she mounted her first solo exhibition at the Robertson Galleries in Ottawa; her husband died in October; in December she paid her first visit here…
Barbados allowed the Artist to affirm her own identity without reference to either her father or her husband. She was able to fulfill her dream of being a painter and later a potter. When she returned to Barbados on December 10th 1966 it was to a Barbados in the year when the country achieved independence. It was a kinder, gentler Barbados where we were still our Brother’s keeper as opposed to our Brother’s competitor.
Her career continued to develop, taking on more of an international dimension. Her first solo show in Barbados was at the Hilton Art Gallery in 1967, which was very well received. The Canadian Embassy in Moscow acquired one of her paintings in 1970; her work was represented in collections all over the world. A 1967 exhibition in Ottawa featured many Barbadian paintings. In 1972 Goldie Spieler, Joyce Daniel, Norma Talma and Stella St John were the first Barbadian Artists to participate in the Sao Paulo Bienal. The work displayed by Goldie Spieler in the Bienal was a watercolour of tropical flowers, which sold.
In 1983 she started Earthworks Pottery. In 1997 Goldie was chosen Entrepreneur of the Year.
Throughout the 1990’s, Goldie began to exhibit her sculptures in clay. She was one of the artists selected to represent Barbados at CARIFESTA 1995 in the Visual Arts display.
When the Barbados government took the decision to create a gallery in the Parliament building to honour the National Heroes of Barbados, Goldie Spieler was one of the artists selected to create monument to one of the heroes. They were asked to produce a contemporary work as opposed to a portrait sculpture. Goldie chose Sarah –Ann Gill, who was a “Methodist warrior against oppression as her ‘(s)he-ro of Barbados‘ (Robert Edison Sandiford: ‘Five Earthy Pieces’ Signature Barbados 2008 Edition). The Artist could identify most with her as a Woman and a Believer.
However, she has designed outstanding needlepoint tapestries for Agudath Israel Synagogue in Ottawa. Goldie designed the multi-canvas tapestry, which was woven by the women of the Sisterhood. The first tapestry which was unveiled in September 1976 consists of 18 panels. The panels depict the 12 tribes of Israel, as well as Hebrew and English translations of the ‘Shema’, Judaism’s affirmation of a belief in one God.