Art is not “a dunce people thing”, so we should stop saying that – Bevan Allicock

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Artist Bevan Allicock

By Lakhram Bhagirat

In Guyana, art is not seen as a lucrative career since many Guyanese do not appreciate art and even if they do, they are quite often not inclined to pay the artist their well-deserved dues. This has led a number of people to often suppress their children’s artistic talents in favour of them pursuing traditional careers.

Additionally, someone gravitating to the arts is quite often seen as “dunce” and in Guyanese secondary schools, the streaming process that happens in Fourth Form is a major contributory factor to that notion. Students are placed in one of four streams with Science being the cream of the crop followed by Business, the Arts and Technical competes for the final two spots.

In my time as a secondary school student, I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulder to be streamed into either Sciences or Business and in the end, I gained a place in the sciences class. That is not to say that I was one of the top performers but it was more of parental and societal pressure to excel.

I, many Guyanese students, have seen our peers cry bitterly when they found out that they were streamed into the Arts or Technical classes because they were now categorised as being “dunce”. Some of us students never failed to let them forget that too.

While the Arts stream may not exactly be all about the arts, it is from that the idea that most artists are dunces was birthed. However, young Bevan Allicock is out to change that perception.

“In secondary school they kill the art and they tell you that art is for dunce people but it’s not and they should stop saying that. There is more to art and you incorporate it in all aspects in your art. Art is important,” he said.

The 20-year-old hails from the Region Nine village of Surama and credits his entire outlook on life to his family and villagers. There he was taught respect, kindness and compassion and has been exhibiting those traits to keep him grounded while he lives out of the village.

“I consider myself as a respectful person, a person who someone could look up and I owe that to my parents and grandparents and the people in my village that I grow up around. The village and everyone had a great influence in me graduating here and being an artist,” he said.

Bevan’s talent is beyond measure and he has been slowly cementing his place among the greats. However, it was his struggles during the earlier days in his life that led him to art. He explained that while both of his parents are artistic – his father being a self-taught architect and mother a self-taught seamstress and painter – the drive to build a career surrounding around the arts has never crossed his mind.

He knew he had a talent and wanted to nurture that but he never envisioned one where he would be creating masterpieces under the tutelage of the qualified teachers at the Burrowes School of Art.

“I consider myself as an introvert. I was always shy and always trying to stay away from the attention and to do that I turn to art. I stuck with being creative to help me to deal with society around because in school I was one of the few guys that had a good performance and they expected me to represent the school but I was not that type of person to put myself out there. I was always in the backseat doing creative things so the arts really came to me rather than me going to it,” he said.

When asked about how he approach his pieces, the painting and leather art student said, “I try to make them tell a story. I have this semi realism style, this abstract and realistic approach so I basically have a mixed style. I try different mediums to tell different stories. My major task was based on like my spiritual, religious and ancestral beliefs. I tried to incorporate that into one and tell a story.”

He draws inspiration from various sources but majority of the inspiration for his work comes from that of the late Guyanese artist George Simon. Bevan said that he tries to honour Simon by dabbling in his style of art and ensuring that his legacy lives on.

For Bevan, he gravitates more towards portraits because they allow him to show others how beautiful they can be.

“I am mostly like a portrait artist and I chose that because of the joy it brings to my customers and their expressions when you deliver it. How they feel and how you approach the work, they have this connection to it. If you do a work for a customer and they are an introvert like me, always quiet, sad and so and I do paintings with them smiling and colours, they tend to be extremely happy. Colours plays an important role psychologically with people and I try my best to use colours to help show emotions and I want them to feel happy and have a sigh of relief. I want to bring life to the world,” Bevan said.

If you want to get into contact with Bevan to purchase his artwork, you can contact him on 638-8219.