Documenting History Vol.1|1
by Sabra Cramer
The Caribbean has always been a place for artists to find inspiration. From the white sand beaches to the lush rainforests, the islands continue to maintain an air of tranquility while teeming with a rhythmic melody of color and textures. Among the ranks of contemporary artists that have captured the Caribbean through paint is David Moore. For years, David has dedicated himself to documenting the Caribbean through colorful landscapes and typical scenes of Caribbean life.
David Moore was born and raised in Woodbrook, one of the many towns within Trinidad and Tobago’s capital of Port-of-Spain. Having come from a family of artists, David began drawing and painting at a very early age. His grand-father played trumpet for the Trinidad Light Classical Orchestra, and two of his uncles were self-taught artists that exposed David to drawing during his earliest years. Although his family played an integral role in encouraging David’s interest in the arts, his original source of inspiration was the local transportation system that took him to and from school every day. He affectionately remembers his days of walking with school friends to catch “the long trolley home.” In fact, he loved drawing the trams and trolleys as much as he did riding back and forth on them with his friends. David captured these “larger than life” objects in any way he could. He drew, painted and even molded trolleys out of cardboard, which he later painted. As a youth his artwork reflected his fascination with the trolleys and trams that carried thousands of working Trinidadians to and from work each day.
After graduating from high school, David began documenting the history that had seemed to be gradually vanishing. It was when the San Fernando, Arima, and other trains stopped; that he began painting the old trains and scrap engines as a tribute to his original inspiration. To this day he wonders why Trinidad ever got rid of its tram and railway transportation systems. With trains no longer in existence, his drawings became a popular novelty, affording him the opportunity to gain more income by selling his art. He began selling several paintings for one paycheck and soon ended up with one paycheck per painting. Churches, banks and art galleries came knocking on his door in search of local paintings to give their interiors more of a Caribbean feel.
During these times, David also held a number of different jobs in an attempt to maintain a sustainable income. His only challenge was working around his Saturday schedule, which conflicted with his day of Adventist worship. His first job was teaching at a high school in Port-of-Spain, which he left soon after, not because it conflicted with his faith, but rather he never really enjoyed instructing students in other lines of study. Painting and drawing was what he loved. The second job he took was for $15 TT per week making jewelry boxes and writing pads at a nearby factory. With a hand for art, he was naturally gifted at creating things. It was during this second job that he went on to meet a gentleman named Clarion Charles, who would later contribute to his and David’s great success. Mr. Charles recognized David’s talent, and realized how much of an impact his paintings could have on the greater Caribbean population.
Mr. Charles helped shift David’s focus from simply painting trains and trolleys to documenting the transcendent aesthetic environment that existed throughout the countries of the Caribbean. David’s big breakthroughs came in the late seventies with his first exhibition in 1976 in Port of Spain, which was later followed by more exhibitions in Toronto (1979) and New York (1986). Over the years David painted a collection of over 100 originals that speak true to his love and appreciation of art and what it is to be from the Caribbean. David’s art is a documentation of his life and the things around him. In one of his paintings titled the “Barrack Yard,” he recalled all of the activities that would occur in a barrack yard, a shared community space. Later, he mentioned it was replaced by a modern day grocery store. David was able to document the way of life before the societal change took place around him.