Basil Watson will open an art academy in Jamaica | News

Renowned artist and sculptor Basil Watson plans to open an academy in his native country as he seeks to mentor aspiring Jamaican artists. Watson made the revelation to the gleaner weeks before his larger-than-life statue of American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr is unveiled. Watson was given the go-ahead by the city of Atlanta from a group of 100 sculptors who had applied to create the image.

“I plan to open an art academy to help young Jamaicans in the near future. I have to pass on my craft, and this will be an opportunity to ensure that young aspiring artists have access to an avenue to express themselves and hone their talent,” Watson said.

The statue is 18 feet tall and will be mounted in front of Mercedes-Benz Stadium near Martin Luther King Jr Drive. It will be unveiled later this month.

“It was a humbling experience. I grew up when Mr. King was actively fighting prejudice and was shot for it. My dad painted a picture of him in 1969, so things came full circle in a weird way,” said Watson, who has lived in Atlanta for 18 years.

Watson’s work is well documented in Jamaica. On display at the National Stadium in Independence Park: his artistic renditions of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt; the “Pocket Rocket”, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce; Herb McKenley, Merlene Ottey; Veronica Campbell-Brown; and Asafa Powell.

Watson also sculpted a statue of cultural icon Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley, while another statue of Bolt is to be unveiled in the retired sprinter’s home parish of Trelawny.

When asked if he would return to live in Jamaica, Watson said yes.

“Jamaica is my home. I’m going and I have to come back,” he said. The Gleaner.

Basil Watson received the Jamaican Government’s Order of Distinction in 2016 for his artistic achievements.

Mildred D. Field