THE WATSON DYNASTY
12 ft statue "Martin Luther King" 2021, Atlanta, on the very street that bears his name.
"First Child" 1998 - The first black man to have a public sculpture in London.
The first black man to go to the royal college of art.
Son of Basil Watson.
A new monument of #MartinLutherKing in Atlanta – on the very street that bears his name. The 12-foot statue of #MLK was created by artist Basil Watson
Windrush History Makers The Watson Dynasty
The Watson quest for artistic excellence began shortly after the inception of the Windrush era when Gloria Thompson and Barrington Watson met on a ship from Jamaica to England in about 1951. Seventy-Five years later we look back to see the three generational Watson legacy in the field of Art, comprising 5 Artists.
Barrington was pursuing his passion for Art when he went to England and eventually became the first Black man to enroll at the Royal College of Art before continuing his studies throughout Europe. In 1962, shortly after Jamaica gained independence, the family returned to live in the Caribbean Island and Barrington became the first Principal and Director of Studies at the newly formed Jamaica School of Art. The family legacy then gathers momentum when his three children attend the college, now the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts. Janis, the eldest, studied painting and went on to further studies in print making in Germany. Raymond and Basil studied sculpture and have gone on to open full time studios and fulfill practicing and teaching careers both within the island and internationally. The third generation Artist is Basil’s son Kai, a painter, who studied Art in the United States at Ohio Wesleyan University and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Raymond is a Windrush baby, born in London in 1954, and although having grown up in Jamaica, lived and worked in London for several years in the 1990s. During that time, he became the first Black sculptor to erect a public sculpture in London when he was commissioned to create a memorial to the 116 children who died in the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Raymond now lives and works in Jamaica, balancing between heading the Sculpture Department at the EMCVPA and sculpting in his studio.
After the first 22years of his career in Jamaica, Basil emmigrated to the USA in 2002, and lives and works in Atlanta Georgia. He has also taught at the EMCVPA. He has an extensive resume of public monuments in Jamaica, having sculptures of Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in addition to numerous other athletes; national icons like The Hon. Louis Bennett and the seven National Heroes of Jamaica. He is very proud to have public works on the 3 major universities in Jamaica. Internationally he has monuments in China, Guatemala and Egypt, the USA with his 12’ statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and most recently The National Windrush Monument in Waterloo Station, London. Basil is currently working on a number of other public projects as he enjoys a rise in recognition and prominence as a sculptor.
Janis continues to practice her Art along with her other interests but operates on a more private stage.
The third generation belongs to Basil’s son Kai, who paints very much in the vein of his family tradition as a representational artist with an emphasis on the human figure. He has continued the family tradition of being commissioned to paint portraits of Jamaica’s Prime Ministers. These include, Bruce Golding, Portia Simpson, and Andrew Holness, which all hang in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The family has also had a fair share of Jamaican National Honors as both Barrington and Basil have received National Honors in recognition for their contributions to the Nation in the field of Art.
Barrington is the undoubted the patriarch of the Watson Family Legacy, his vision and self belief driving him, against tradition and the odds, to pursue his path in Art.As his influence spreads so does that of the Watson Family, so unique in having three generations, 5 members who not only practice but live a life of Art.
British artist David Begbie
"Beneath Jamaica’s exotic image of sunshine and music there exists an underlying cultural heritage of artistic expression and one which is an integral component of the country’s deep-rooted sense of identity.
Within Jamaica’s creative community there is a real sense of seriousness and commitment which is certainly of significance as exemplified by the prolific WATSON FAMILY. The Watsons are an artistic dynasty that spans three generations, which is rare enough. It is of particular interest and significance when this happens in a country the size of Jamaica and says much about the culture in which the dynasty has evolved."
DAVID BEGBIE – Sculptor, BA (hons), HDFA Slade, MRSS