Those empowered to make decisions on enhancement of National Gallery cannot be indifferent

Dear Editor,

This is to express appreciation to the Sunday Stabroek for the very engaging reading it provided in its edition of Sunday 22 July, 2018.

Of several, three articles were of particular interest in their respective styles and subjects, including Dave Martins’ tribute to our Toshaos; Al Creighton’s review of Ameena Gafoor’s ‘Aftermath of Empire: The Novels of Roy A.K. Heath’ which I must rush to purchase. (I had the privilege of a conversation with Roy Heath during one of his rare returns to Guyana many years ago.)

With due respect to the above however, I got particularly engrossed in Elfrieda Bissember’s letter which spaciously dealt in turn with the triumphs and tribulations of the National Gallery. Her submission, albeit seemingly contentious, resonated with me as a studiously crafted account of the virtual trauma impacting on the management of the National Gallery.

It certainly made me reflective of the distance I had moved from a more active attachment to the gallery in its earlier years. I particularly recalled one evening a tribute to A.J. Seymour with the launch of the latest anthology of his work organised by his two children (from overseas) with the active promotion of my colleague Professor Arnold Gibbons of New York University, at the time.

I could never forget the beautifully cadenced description of Seymour’s Georgetown by the revered Lloyd Searwar, and the pithy commentary by Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine who, as I recall, had not long returned to Guyana from his study and protracted sojourn in the United Kingdom.

It was also good to be able to recall the spirituality embedded in the towering talents of Denis Williams; while contrastingly reminiscing how disappointed my tutor E.R. Burrowes was in his expectations of me as an artist.

So perhaps it is against a background of a gallery that was then enhanced by works of Stanley Greaves, that I became increasingly engrossed in the balanced recital of the almost vicarious approach to the management (if it can be so called) of this historical institution.

One could not help but ponder upon what projects as the insensitivity with which patent needs of, and indeed support for, the sustenance of our cultural heritage, are being treated.

The National Gallery is one of several institutions, which embody the spirit of ONE PEOPLE, that would outlive generations. Those who are empowered to make the decisions that will impact on its survivability simply cannot arrogate their indifference to its being maintained and appropriately enhanced, to the exclusion of the interest and education of theirs and our own progeny.

Such a performance deficit as described in this valued contributor’s letter, must be noticeable not only to our own caring citizens, but to a growing diasporean community; not to mention the message being communicated to a globalised range of informed observers.

Thanks to Ms Bissember for the insight.

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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