Barbadian Artist: OLIVER BURNETT – A RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION, now on at Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination

{Nel Bretney appreciation – EDITED} A Barbadian artistic gem is expressed with all due respects. Oliver Burnett, the quiet, unassuming, visual artist rarely seen among his peers, who preferred the relative anonymity of the wings to the bright lights of the centre stage, earns the recognition and publicity that he genuinely deserves. A retrospective staging of his work, curated by the Collectors Club, will be opened to the public from October 10- 22 at the UWI’s Errol Barrow Centre for the Creative Imagination.

A 2004 rendition of the Careenage from Oliver Burnett

Oliver Burnett, 1936-2010, was very much a ‘plein air ‘ painter, with a penchant for muted hues and at times a misty soft-edged style. He often produced works on a large scale covering bucolic scenes, familiar local images like Chattel houses, Nicolas Abbey, the Careenage, Morgan Lewis and Port St. Charles. Smaller pieces also formed part of his output and they too recorded Barbados’ natural and constructed landscape.

A rare, candid snap of Oliver Burnett

Oliver was largely self taught but was also the protégé of Ivan Payne, one of the Island’s pioneer artists. The love of nature evidenced in his work, meshed well with his theology of the soul and the body, all being expressions of God’s creative power. A one-week art course at the YMCA marks his formal training, but he honed his skills by copying great landscape artists like Corot and Constable while at the same time establishing a style of his own. He was drawn to the Hudson School of Painting in the US, and in particular to Albert Bierstadt whose iconic “Oregon Trail” Oliver reproduced. The original is set in a dramatic orange sky of the setting sun; Oliver’s version has a more subdued sun allowing him to better control his distribution of light and shade.

Extreme Leftt - Cheryl Lewis of the Collectors Club, 2nd from Left on - three of Mr Burnett's surviving Children

Oliver Burnett defined and executed a distinct vision for his art. His close observation of nature formed the basis of his originality as an artist. His son Trevor recalls his father’s last words: “Son, always remember in life, the tables turn.” What prophetic words! This artist, who shunned the limelight, receives the red carpet treatment at the Errol Barrow Centre. All Barbadians are invited to appreciate up to October 22 from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Saturday.

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