Report being done on preservation of airport murals – ministry

A report on recommendations to preserve murals by famed artist Aubrey Williams at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Timehri is currently being prepared.

This is according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure last evening in response to a news item in Monday’s edition of Stabroek News headlined `Narrow escape for Aubrey Williams murals at CJIA -unclear what plans made for them”.

The ministry statement said that in early February 2017, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation engaged the National Trust of Guyana for guidance and help to preserve the murals and paintings placed at the arrivals and departures sections of the Terminal Building.

It said that Nirvanna Persaud, Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust of Guyana, and team visited the airport on Friday, March 24, 2017 and conducted a site visit jointly with staff of the Airport Corporation. A report is now being prepared which would outline recommendations to preserve the artworks, the statement said.

“The Ministry wishes to condemn any statements or allegations that efforts were being made to destroy these valued artworks at the airport”, the statement added.

The Stabroek News report on Monday had said that the current US$150m CJIA expansion project had apparently not taken into consideration the preservation of the murals.  Stabroek News was told that it was only after concerns were raised by persons including staff at the airport that the National Trust was called in for meetings on the way forward.

It is unclear why it was only in February this year that the National Trust was called in by the CJIA when the airport expansion project has been in full swing for several years.

A decade earlier, two of Williams’s murals at the airport had been covered over during construction works.

The Education Ministry’s Department of Culture meanwhile has stepped in to ensure the preservation of the murals.

“I have asked the people at Castellani House, who are in charge of the National Collection, to pay attention to this and give me a feedback… that they go down to the airport and look at the conditions of the paintings and make a report to me on what to do…,” Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told Stabroek News on Tuesday. “If they are in jeopardy we have to move them but we are working on it,” he added.

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