By Carlena Knight
The southern wall of the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) boasted a face-lift yesterday after government officials and visual arts students from across the island unveiled a mural showcasing the work of the students, which depicted the heritage of Antigua and Barbuda.
Over the past few weeks, students from the Trinity Academy, St Mary’s Secondary School, All Saints Secondary School, Sir Novelle Richards Academy, and Glanvilles Secondary School collaborated to create the mural with the help of well-known local artist, Kallan Greene and Visual Arts Education Officer, Melville Richardson.
The unveiling ceremony is part of the country’s 40th independence celebrations.
As invited guests appreciatively viewed the new art production and commended the work of the students, Jonathan Stevens of the St Mary’s Secondary School garnered special praise.
Stevens, an avid art lover, painted two panels all by himself.
“It’s very rewarding to see all these people loving my work, but not only that, I get to express myself representing Antigua and my school in a big way,” Stevens told this newsroom.
His pieces depicted some historical artifacts of the country to include its national flower, a sugar mill, the national land creature, the national bird, and the national sea creature.
He also encouraged other youth to get involved in visual arts.
“They should get involved. It not only opens up opportunities for you but it opens a way for you to express yourself to the public,” he added.
Stevens thanked his mother, SMSS principal Casey Phillip, and Kallan Greene for their support during this process.
Minister of Education, Sports and Creative Industries, Daryll Matthew who was also present at the unveiling had high commendations for the young artists.
“Today is really a special day that makes me feel very proud with the unveiling of the murals at the Antigua Recreation Grounds, a historic institution and a historic venue here in Antigua and Barbuda, and so for our children, our young people and their teachers to have put this mural on the wall at a time when we are celebrating 40 years of independence is very significant,” Matthew said.
He mentioned that a mural like this showcases not only the talents of the youngsters but their resilience, especially having to deal with the pandemic for the past two years.
Matthew also thanked the teachers, sponsors and all others who were involved in this initiative.
“I want to personally thank them; thank the teachers and those who played a part in organising this, our corporate partners and certainly those at the Festivals Department and the Department of Culture. They have done a fantastic job in putting all of this together and so, I think it really brings some life to this part of Factory Road and it definitely brings some life to the walls of the ARG. I think they have done it justice.
It will be the first of many to adorn the walls of ARG as according to Director of National Festivals Petley O’Kieffe.
“We don’t plan to stop now. So, after we would have unveiled the mural, we plan to make that southern wall a historical exhibition that will capture our heritage with the five secondary schools,” O’Kieffe added.
She revealed that the experience thus far has been “an excellent one” and “is great exposure for the students”.
Work, O’Kieffe mentioned will continue after the Independence celebrations.
This is just the second announcement in recent times regarding murals, as a few months ago the Minister Matthew declared that a mural depicting several former national athletes would be commissioned around the walls of the country’s lone track and field facility, YASCO.