Jackie Hinkson Band of the Year saga continues

Jackie Hinkson's street exhibiton of Carnival-inspired murals on Fisher Avenue in St Ann’s. -
Jackie Hinkson's street exhibiton of Carnival-inspired murals on Fisher Avenue in St Ann’s. -

This year will see another edition of Band of The Year, a series of Carnival murals by local artist Donald "Jackie" Hinkson, called Ah Sailing with the Ship.

Since 2021, Hinkson has used the walls of Fisher Avenue, St Ann’s, Port of Spain to display his huge pieces of art to the general public.

Hinkson said the idea came during the start of the pandemic when he felt besieged by a lot of social and political situations, and he felt the need to mention them.

“I’m not a commentator. I’m not making any judgements or anything like that. But I just felt if I used Carnival characters in a symbolic or metaphorical way to represent local and international situations then it would make an interesting visual narrative.”

That idea led to the mural Band of the Year, in which he used Carnival imagery to represent local and international issues including Black Lives Matter and the general elections. He realised it could be an ongoing piece and every year he added to Band of the Year.

The theme of last year’s Carnival mural street display was Game of Words, a play on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. For this year, he liked the idea of exploring the headpieces of fancy sailors (mas) to refer to different situations.

“Then I remembered the line of the calypso (Sailing by De Mighty Trini), ‘Ah sailing with the ship (sic) sink or float.’ I figured here I am, staying in Trinidad, I’m not going to live anywhere else, so I’m sailing with the ship. I’ll let other people go in the direction of sink or float if they want. Not me.”

Hinkson said in the 70- to 80-foot long mural Ah Sailing with the Ship he had “something looking like sailor mas” in which each headpiece referred to a situation including vagrancy, war and parliament conflicts.

He said it was a way of paying tribute to traditional mas while alluding to “social realities” faced by all.

Jackie Hinkson at his art studio and at his exhibit of murals on Fisher Avenue. - Mark Lydersay

“I have always insisted that, as far as art, painting, is concerned, you could have as much interesting imagery and content and messages as you want, but unless you manage the visual elements in a strong way, it might be an attractive popular thing but it would not be a good work of art.

“The messages that people may see in it, that is not what is important to me. What is important to me is how I have these layers of messages but I'm presenting them in a strong visual way.

“How I compose this thing. How I control movement and rhythm – where I put an arm, where I put a leg, how the spectators’ eyes are led from one object into another. How I tie in tonal contrast, tonal mood, colour intensity, all that kind of thing. That is of paramount importance to me.”

With this addition, the Band of the Year piece was over 300 feet long.

“It’s one continuous look at life, like a band parading through the years.”

Hinkson said he had to be careful not to get caught up in trends and petty bacchanal that people found interesting at the time but was insignificant in the long-run.

“I have to be constantly thinking about making a strong visual presentation that could stand up forever rather than what is attractive for this year. I have to be careful to try to be universal, to evoke something about the human condition and not just about the excitement of immediate politics.”

In addition to Band of the Year, there will be a previously shown 110-foot mural on display as well as 90 feet of enlarged charcoal drawings.

The murals will be on display from today to February 18.


"Jackie Hinkson Band of the Year saga continues"

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