Art started as a form of therapy for diving accident survivor, Mario Holder, but it has now placed him on the winning stage.
The 23-year-old captured the Best Painting for Emerging Artist Award in the 2019 Carmichael Prize Exhibition, held at the Caribbean Gallery of Art in Speightstown, St. Peter.
His winning piece, Full of Pride, depicted a contented and self-assured Afro-Barbadian young lady among the island’s national flower, the Pride of Barbados. He used this imagery to portray the competition’s theme, Barbados We Come From.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mario said: “I feel very grateful to win. I worked really hard at it, so I am glad it paid off.”
He said his love for art blossomed after he used it to escape the pain of a horrible diving accident a few years ago. Recalling he could not even write when he began his therapy, Mario said he learned to draw and eventually paint.
His mother encouraged him to take the skill further and found him an art teacher. He later became the protégé of artist, Tracy Williams.
“Art helped me to be more mindful, and took my mind away from the negative stuff. When I am painting, I think about nothing else but trying to get the painting right. It takes my problems away. I learnt from many artists,” Mario shared.
The Best Painting for Established Artist award went to Kirsten Dear for the piece Morning Light in the Careenage, while Honourable Mention went to Lorna Wilson for Golden in the Cave.
Honourable Mention for Emerging Artist went to Angela Barnett for The Chattle House, while the People’s Choice Award for the Best Painting went to Leah Boras for her piece Can You Sea.
Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, viewed the exhibition, and congratulated all the artists. Noting that they were speaking “their truth through art”, he said he believed the exhibition was a great example of Barbadian togetherness.
“You often hear myself and the Prime Minister talk about a new sense of identity, a new national consciousness. This particular exhibition is exactly what we are talking about in bringing together our people to forge that identity that says we are Bajan, we are Barbados,” Minister King stated.