Mateya Fraser of Bishop’s High School, with her painting Tobago – Rich Heritage, Bright Future, walked away with $3,000, and $10,000 for her school, as she was judged winner of the Tobago Secondary Schools’ Art Competition 2022.
Of the 35 entries, her piece, which earned 270 points, and 11 others will be featured in the 2023 edition of the Office of the Chief Secretary’s (OCS) calendar.
Their work was judged by members of the Art Society of TT, Debra Evans, Hudaa Mohammed and Deborah Clement.
Addressing the prizegiving ceremony on Tuesday at the Anne Mitchell-Gift Auditorium of the Scarborough Library, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine congratulated all 35 entrants.
He encouraged the students to pay more attention to visual arts.
“I believe strongly in art in education. Art in education provides an avenue for our youngsters to be creative, and that goes without saying. They’re able to express themselves through visual art, whether they are using their hands to do sculpting or they are painting – whatever medium they choose, creativity oozes out of their hands.
"But there is research that shows that there is a strong correlation between academic performance and students who get involved in arts – spending at least three to four hours or thereabouts per day on art.”
He said there was a culture that thankfully is changing now, which said it was not possible to make a living from art.
“I’ve been to some art galleries, and I’ve seen some pieces and I’ll say, 'I like this piece,' and when I check the price, it’s more than my salary. So imagine if an artist sells two of that in a month, you’re more than well paid.
"The point is, we have to change the stereotype attached to art and artists. We have to also begin to provide some spaces for our artists.”
He said he was told the quality of all 35 entries was high, and believes the assembly should find ways to motivate those who did not place in the final 12.
“The competition is really high-quality. More than that, divisions across the THA will be asked to purchase the artwork of the students, outside of the 12, so that art pieces would not just be returned to schools to take up dust somewhere, but that they can be beautifully displayed at our public offices.”
His sentiments were shared by chief administrator Ethlyn John, who acknowledged the talent of the students. Tobago, she said, is noted for its culture.
“We are one of the most innovative and creative people on this planet. Today, while we have seen the rise of several young artists, I believe that there is still much room for us to develop visual arts on the island and to preserve and protect the tradition.
“Whether you decide to further your education or profession in art, I encourage you to lend your creativity and art knowledge to the economic, social and cultural development of this island. Tobago needs your talent.”
After the prizegiving ceremony, the 2023 Chief Secretary’s calendar, the large-scale calendar which offers a way to promote Tobago’s young artists year-round, was unveiled.
The 11 other finalists:
Scarborough Secondary School: Brielle Roberts and Shade Roberts
Roxborough Secondary School: Keyera Dookhan
Speyside High School:Cey Cey Shanghie, Alyssa Lezama, Shaquel George, Tafique Stewart, Israel Melville, Jahawae Tobias, Kalifa Sylvester, and Nikyla Shenice Beckles.
They won $1,500 each.