By Iana Seales

With a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Guyana and a one off-exhibition that debuted to fairly good reviews last year, artist Damian Moore can be said to be ‘on his way’.

Damian Moore (right) and one of the Malick folk performers of T&T.
Damian Moore (right) and one of the Malick folk performers of T&T.

Lately he has been busy building his name in the region as a fresh, creative talent.

Specifically, Damian has generated a bit of a buzz in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago where his profile is increasing and his ambition to break out as fashion designer inches closer.

Just last month he designed a stunning mini collection of indigenous costumes for the opening ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, as part of the celebrated McFarlane Design House on the twin island that was contracted for the cultural presentation.

“I love the fact that I have the free range to design… there is room to be as creative and characteristic as possible, but keeping the focus on what the company expects,” Moore explained in a recent interview as he described his relationship with the McFarlane company.

20090509costumeMoore ended up in Trinidad out of initial curiosity and later need, as he discovered after one trip that it seemed the ideal place for his growth as an artist.

“I see it as the creative capital of the region, and I have found them [Trinidadians] to be serious about the arts in terms of the investment and the commitment that goes into this particular area,” he said.

He is of the opinion that relocation to Trinidad does not necessarily signal permanency, but for a few more years he is likely to be resident there, honing his skills and possibly breaking out a fashion designer.

Before the Trinidad move, Damian was a little known artist here, of some reputation but not enough to attract huge crowds, or a debut of his collection at Castellani House. He graduated from the University of Guyana and took an early interest in painting though his real love has always been textile designing.

20090509costume21He was offered a space at the Centre for Brazilian Studies in June 2008 to mount a collection largely based on Indian dance. The images ranged from a female dancer’s feet to her hands and hips while paying detail to intricate sari designs. The collection was fairly well received.

But Damian wanted more, and in a few months he decided to visit Trinidad. He fell in love with the island and went back in search of a job. He admits it was difficult at first.

The stigma attached to Guyanese nationals aside, though he mentioned it in passing, was a hurdle, and then there was the competitiveness of industry. Damian, focused and serious about what he wanted, had decided pretty early that he wanted to work with Brian McFarlane of the McFarlane Design House. He sent in an application, but got no response.

Some time after he did a minor job and was praised for his work, and guess who noticed? The McFarlanes soon spotted him and within a short while his application was approved and he had a job with the company. Damian joined McFarlane Design House in December 2008.

20090509costume31Since his brief connections to Trinidad’s most celebrated design house began, Damian has worked on Carnival 2009 and soon after, the summit. He called the summit his biggest job ever, and most gratifying given the significance of the event and its sheer magnitude.

He recalled that the dress rehearsals were many and extremely rigorous. The costumes he designed were few, but some were elaborate. He described them as being mostly overdone, but not completely authentic, and according to him the demanding work was on the headpieces.

Moore’s costumes depicted the Sarawak and Carib indigenous tribes of the region, and while he had the free range to work as he wanted, there was a still a prototype that he had to follow in keeping with the ideas of designer, Brian McFarlane.

Outside of costume designing, he is required to do interior designs and decorative projects. Moore said his work at the Trinidadian company is largely within the context of a creative professional, whereas his personal development as an artist, as someone who wishes to passionately pursue textile designs and a foray into fashion will come as an aside to work.

20090509_danceHe remembers his days at Tutorial High School when he realized that he had a knack for textile designs, saying that his work stood out, often overshadowing those of the females who were expected to do well in those subjects.

“My parents had a desire for me to do accounts or mechanics, but I enrolled in the Fine Arts programme at UG,” Damian said.

His ambition as fashion designer is red hot. He has plans to enrol soon in the competitive programme at the recently opened Fashion School in Trinidad, and later debut a collection at the Guyana Fashion Weekend.

At age 24, Damian Moore is driven, young and full of ideas, mostly of how to channel his energy and creative spirit into something good. He is ambitious enough to say that his fashion line could come as early as the next Guyana Fashion Weekend to he held later this year.

“I am going to call Sonia Noel… It’s likely I could be unveiling my collection of natural fabrics and tie-dyes,” he added. (ianaseales@yahoo.com)