The Artist as Critic.

I am happy to confess that as much as I love hard news and frequently break into a sweat when there is some untoward act happening  when I am producing the newscast I am primarily a fan of the arts. I am not the least ashamed to admit that nothing gets my mind going in an interview as much as a chance to speak to someone who creates for a living. Today I felt i hit the jackpot as I had not one, but two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most famous creators back to back. Beter yet, they represent to completely different areas of the arts so I was virtually bubbling over with questions.

My first interview guest was Paul Keens Douglas who is better known around these parts as Tim Tim. He has, for the last three decades charmed and fascinated audiences with his story telling and humour. He has held up a mirror to our society and foibles and continues to do so . These days he makes a living out of motivational speaking in addition to his performances. We spoke of the lack of respect that storytelling ( I guess it is one word now that i think about it) has in terms of government allocations and the consequent need for those who love the artform to persevere in order to keep it alive. It is sad that one of the essential parts of Caribbean culture is struggling simply because those in power are obsessed with more flashy material things. Again, it seems to me we are selling our essence for an empty future. Paul has a new concert DVD out and from my brief glimpse of the clips we showed I think it would be a great part of any serious Caribbean culture collection.

My perennial favourite guest, Leroy Clarke was also on the programme today so I was kept quite happy for the afternoon. Leroy was relaxed as usual and we started rolling long before the cameras did. I can safely say I have never had a more effortless conversation with anyone on the programme nor has time passed so quickly. I was thinking “this is great we can really get going to some serious discussion” when the Director flashed me the 10 minutes left flag. We spoke about his book launch for “De Distance is Here” ( highly recommended) which has been taken up by UTT Press and about his art. I have written about the book previously and I still treasure the copy he gave me but today we spoke about his art and his journey to get to this point in his career. Leroy is entering his 70th year in 2008 and he says he sometimes thinks of stopping but always comes back to the fact that he cannot ignore the path he is driven to take. I agree with him. If creativity moves you and  you have an spiritual need to produce it would be a travesty to stop and possibly deadly. To a true artist I imagine stopping creating is equivalent to stopping breathing. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the complexity and often terrible beauty of Leroy’s work and I truly hope he will continue creating and breathing for many decades to come. Based on his zeal and amazing stamina I wouldn’t be surprised if he outlasted me.

Truly a rewarding day despite some momentary moments of vexation on looking at some comments on a past blog entry. I would dare say that the only thing that could have made this day any more rewarding in terms of work would have been another David Rudder interview – but that would be greed on my part.



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