Artist Philip Moore is 80 today
Guyana Chronicle
October 12, 2001

THE local art community and other well-wishers are to converge this evening at the National Art Gallery, Castellani House to pay their respects to internationally acclaimed Guyanese artist, Mr. Philip Moore, who turns 80 today.

A selection of Moore’s works, which form part of the National Collection, are also to go on exhibition at Castellani House beginning tomorrow and ending Saturday, November 24.

According to a release compiled by Curator of Castellani House, Ms Elfrieda Bissember, the exhibition will span the artist’s working career of over 50 years, and will include some of his earlier works such as ‘Spirit Guide’ which was done in 1947, and the Collection’s most recent acquisition, ‘Run, Rohan, Run’ which was done sometime this year.

Says Bissember, who is an acclaimed artist herself: “Moore’s work continues to be relevant and timely, inspired as it has always been by the minutiae and the larger symbolism of everyday life and of the natural man-made world.”

“His inventive paintings and sculptures, over 130 of which form a significant part of the National Collection,” she says, “are full of visual and verbal wit, and often progressive ideas such as honouring the role of women and respect for all cultures.”

Moreover, she says, Moore’s engagement with the physical world has been matched by his belief in the power of the mind and spirit of Man, and in the existence of Man as “an ancient soul in a modern body, linked to the past and future.”

She says Moore’s winning design for the ‘1763 Monument’, cast in bronze and unveiled for Guyana’s 10th Independence Anniversary, contains many of his ideas regarding empowerment and national unity through self-respect and self-knowledge, and the honouring of heritage.

Moore was born in 1921 in Manchester, on the Corentyne, and his career is said to have begun in the period in which be was a self-taught wood-carver in 1947. He has been inspired by a dream in which he was given a sculpting tool by a hand from the clouds (recorded in the National Collection painting, ‘Receiving the Gift’ 1971 - 1980). Moore later came to Georgetown and worked as a tutor in wood-carving at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) in 1955. He was Artist-in-Residence at Princeton University in 1979, and Head of the Sculpture Department of the Burrowes School of Art (BSA) from 1979 to 1983.

Described as a “pioneer visionary painter and sculptor,” Moore has exhibited on numerous occasions at home here in Guyana, the USA and other countries, and items of his work can be found in several private collections.

He is also the recipient of many prizes and awards both here and abroad, among them the Working People’s Art Class Special Prize (1950); the History and Arts Council Prize for Painting and Sculpture (1968); a design award for Sculpture from the University of Guyana (1969); and a Special Prize from the Department of Culture (1981).

In addition to an Honourable Mention from the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1965 for the piece entitled ‘Bat and Ball Fantasy’, he also won awards from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts in 1974 and 1975.

In October 1996, the year of Moore’s 75th birthday, he was specially invited to exhibit some of his works at the Third Santo Domingo Bienale of Painting in the capital, Santo Domingo.

He also featured in an exhibition and catalogue entitled ‘Caribbean Contemporary Art: Exclusion, Fragmentation and Paradise’, which latter was produced by Barcelonans Maria Lluisa Borras and Antonio Zaya in 1998.

Moore is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Burrowes School of Art.