Kennedy Walcott – Artist
Kennedy Dominic Walcott was born on the 4th of August 1944.
His parents were Beryl Walcott Anthony and Ellis Guerra.
He gained his primary education at Arima Boys’ R. C. School and his secondary education at Holy Cross College, Arima.
Kennedy, an only child, was extremely active and a great footballer.
He started his professional career as the Assistant to his Uncle Stephen (Sonny) Walcott in the Sign Contracting business. Stephen Walcott, now demised, held a contract with Shell Trinidad.
On the 18th of May 1966, at age 21, Kennedy, after purchasing a new Raleigh car, was on his way to Mt. St. Benedict to have it blessed, which was customary. He swerved to escape an oncoming car with children which was travelling on the wrong side of the highway. In avoiding the potential catastrophe, his vehicle landed in the grass verge and toppled several times.
Kennedy was hospitalised for over two years with cranial weight-bearing and became a paraplegic. Although he suffered immensely, Kennedy exhibited an unfathomable sense of strength.
He took up art as occupational therapy. He persevered through art by the use of a strap on his right hand. The brush was inserted in a slit in the strap, vertical to the canvas which was quite challenging for anyone.
This was the pastime that kept him going. His method was a unique one due to his disability. Brushes were strapped to the outer of his palm and he would manoeuvre them to get his images.
Despite involuntary movements of his hand, he championed the skill of landing the brush on canvas even though it often required several attempts.
It took pure determination and strength of character to achieve what he produced from year to year, which started as pure colours dabbed onto canvases as he tried to portray what his mind willed and his eyes saw.
Eventually, through his determination he achieved the control he required to maintain proper perspectives, ratio, colour blending and form.
Through this determination, his patience was cultivated and he created numerous paintings that sustained him until he died at age 61.
Kennedy’s work was exhibited throughout Trinidad and Tobago and he also had a home gallery that attracted tourists and other visitors who made purchases.
Postcards were also printed from some of his paintings.
The medium he used was mainly acrylic on canvas.
Patricia Walcott, Kennedy’s first cousin, once asked him what was his greatest dream.
He replied, “To be known as an artist, not a quadriplegic artist.”
Kennedy was always determined to attempt to do things for himself even though at times they seemed impossible.
He was determined that his work should always be recognised for its standard and should not be weighed by his misfortune.
Patricia was always amazed to see his determination to get the brush on canvas.
This determination was repeated as he fed himself. The spoon passed his mouth many times, yet he refused help. Patricia sometimes secretly wondered how long it would take for him to finish eating.
Kennedy continued to challenge himself this way.
In order to create his paintings, Kennedy requested to be taken to special sites to take pictures. Later on as his health faded he sent different people out to take the pictures for him.
His artistic talents were a family trait.
The Arima Borough Corporation’s Logo was designed and painted by Kennedy’s Grandfather, Edward Walcott. His uncle, Stephen Walcott, his mother, Beryl, his aunt, Paulina (better known as Polly) and his cousin, Neil Walcott have all contributed to the world of art in one field or another.
Kennedy Walcott’s legacy lives through his artwork which has either been sold or hung in the homes of relatives and special friends thanks to his mother, Beryl Walcott.
Seeing him manoeuvre was very inspirational. He had unsurpassed courage and faced the world with an uncanny sense of calm. Kennedy’s strength, passion, humility, faith and determination will always be remembered.
Kennedy had two children, Anthony Harrington and Kathy Villaroel, both of whom were born before his tragic accident.
Kennedy Walcott passed away on 22nd July, 2005.
His memory will always be cherished by family, friends, the people of Arima and Trinidad and Tobago and all who knew and loved him.
By Kazim Abasali
Kazim Abasali is a multimedia artist who enjoys creating his empowering and inspiring art, music, videos, ebooks, published articles, and websites, for himself and others. To access his artistic projects, kindly visit his website.
“Empower with Art” – Hearts empowering lives.