Colleagues speak of Hubert Moshett: the man, the artist By Sunn E. Lyvan
Guyana Chronicle
October 7, 2001

Renowned artist, Mr. Hubert Moshett, CCH, celebrated his 100th birthday two Thursdays ago. Today, some of his colleagues in the field of art remember the brilliant artist who is noted for his pioneer work in design and printing not only in the then British Guiana, but the entire West Indies. As an artist, his favourite media were said to be oil, water colours and pen and ink. He is said to have stopped painting since 1981 when he turned 80.

Religion - a bond between us
EASILY flipping back through the ages, Phillip Moore, one of the oldest, still functional artists smiles.

“Yes, I remember Mr. Moshett whom I first met under rather controversial circumstances in the early ’50s.

“E. R. Burrowes was on his first British Council scholarship and his Working People’s Art Class had invited me to do a talk. This was in Charlotte Street, where they were housed. Moshett moved the vote of thanks and mentioned the amount of lumber I had walked with from Berbice.

“He had this sarcastic wit which infuriated me, especially since what he was referring to was my five pieces of wood carvings which I had presented during the talk. I was mad through and through and eventually left the classroom, literally steaming.

“You must understand artists are extremely egotistical people and to throw any slight upon an artist’s work is to say that what he was doing all the time was wasting his time pursuing smoke.

Moore recalled doing a bust of Sir Charles Wolley, a Governor of that period, and being paid a negligible sum of money for the piece of sculpture.

“When Mr. Burrowes heard, he blew his top and told me to take it back. No piece of sculpture should be sold at a giveaway price. It was art and must have value, especially since it was of the Governor, he ranted. At this period of artistic history, sculpting was almost non -existent and there were just a few Guyanese seriously attempting this medium. Our painters flew high, covered by the scholarships of the British Council which were offered them constantly, This system developed cliquism and those of us coming from the country areas, using different media, had hell breaking into the status quo,” Moore recalled.

“This was the situation at the time and Mr. Burrowes found himself at the helm of the struggle to empower those unknown artists who were also good. This is how the Working People’s Art Class was formed and Mr. Moshett was also a mover of this change. I found myself coming to Town regularly in the ’60s and began visiting the Moshetts. We eventually became friends and he was good encouragement for a non -intellectual coming from the Berbice County and I specifically remembered how startled he was that I couldn’t convince the British Council that I was worthy of a scholarship. You see, to get a scholarship, one had to be living in Georgetown; you had to be exhibiting constantly and you had to be a friend of the British Council.

“Moshett was working at the Guyana Lithographic Company and knew that the clique from Georgetown was giving me a hard time, so he encouraged me to push ahead. We also used to knock our heads together because I had found out that Moshett was a very spiritual person. Our religious beliefs formed a bond between us.

“I have very good impressions of Moshett’s art. He was a good lithographic artist. Whenever one viewed his work, what stood out immediately was that the man was more than a graphic artist. He had an imagination he was willing to use and this is what makes him great to my mind. You see, imagination is the tool of all artists regardless of whatever medium the artist uses.” Moore said.

Hub of the Lithographic Office
BASIL Thompson is the eldest of a line of renowned painters who sign the Thompson signature beneath their work. He also worked in the Graphic Office spearheaded by Hubert Moshett.

He recalls: “I met the artist in the ’50s when I took a painting of Number 63 Beach to Mr. Reginald Phang who was employed with Mr. Moshett in the Art Department of the Guyana Lithographic Company.

“Mr. Burrowes was also there and what I was asking for was whether I had the talent and if the painting was any good. They liked it so much that I was encouraged to go back and work for an exhibition. I eventually did about 10 or 12 pieces all capturing the marvelous symmetry embodied in the Number 63 Beach scenario. When I was finally finished and brought the paintings down for public viewing, Moshett was so enthused that he decided that I should join the Working People’s Art Class. I guess he had decided that I possessed the necessary ingredients which, with a little help, could do Guyana proud.

“Moshett was a very meticulous kind of person with his work. But early on, he must have made the necessary separation between his commercial art and fine art, because they all were different. His self-portrait, when viewed by Mr. Burrowes, made him exclaim that it was the best piece he had ever seen done by a Guyanese artist. And this was not blurted out because of the close friendship which existed between the two men. Rather, it was the result of sheer genius.

“Later, I myself became employed by the Guyana Lithographic Company and from this pinnacle saw much of the man’s talent being exuded.

“I remember one incident which caused Mr. Moshett to explode that the artist had to have “flawless precision.” This speaks of the man’s overall view of his graphics with which he was living day today. Eventually, his nickname became `flawless precision’ which he banged home every chance he got.

“You see, Mr. Moshett had to train all the artists employed in the Art Department of Guyana Lithographic Company. He taught them in spacing for lettering; spacing for words and layout. The Moshett responsibility extended far and wide as he was also doing work for … Trinidad, Barbados and a few other Caribbean countries which didn’t have the facilities of a Lithographic office.

“I think the founder of the Guyana Lithographic Company really was Mr. Leon Schuyler who introduced the idea to the Bookers Board. They went for the idea and when Mr. Schuyler was appointed manager, he employed Mr. Moshett to run the section, which he did with a will. He was the hub around which turned all the activities of that office. Some of his students who worked with him in that office are names of eventual big time Guyanese artists: Antrobus, Sam Cummings and myself, to name a few.

“On reflection, he was good to befriend, but if you came up against Moshett, you hadn’t a chance. As a fine artist, he was rigid … very self-opinionated, like all of us artists everywhere.”