In 1978, after leaving St Mary’s College in the agricultural community of Above Rocks, Mortimer McPherson had his sights set on art school, but his mother would have none of it.
It isn’t that Edith McPherson didn’t want the very best for her son, but Miss Clare, as she was higher known to her community, had a teaching profession planned for her 16-year-old son; identical to his brothers before.
“My mother was not averse to [me] doing art,” McPherson said clearing the air. She was averse to me going to an establishment to review art, and a part of the rationale why she was against that’s that, in those days, plenty of artists were seen as men with tear-up jeans and sandals and ‘Rasta’ head, and he or she would have none of that,” he explained.
Determined to attend art school, in 1984 McPherson got his sister-in-law to pay the schooling for his first term on the Cultural Training Centre (now Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts).
Juggling art school and teachers’ college at the identical time was the beginning of a rewarding journey that has evolved right into a 30-odd yr profession creating interventions and opportunities for displaced youth and art educators.
A sought-after art educator, nice craft woodworker, trophy designer, and painter, McPherson has done projects for the Inter-American Development Bank, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, National Council on Technical & Vocational Education and Training, amongst others.
Recalling the “tremendous impact” of Hope Wheeler and others on the Cultural Training Centre, he declared: “Regardless of how yuh mind small or you’re thinking that you not capable, whenever you step right into a space with Hope Wheeler, that woman transformed your pondering.”
The painting major credits Allison West Martin for his clinical approach and takes lessons from even the moments of frustration, just like the day he walked out of sophistication, tears welling up his eyes.
“‘Mortimer, are you going to regulate it, or are you going to let it control you?'” Samere Tansley, who had witnessed what had happened that day, asked.
“Now I can stay from here and fling the oil paint on the canvas with my eyes closed. Wherever I put it, it is going to stay there,” McPherson, who mounted his first solo exhibition in 1997, said followed by amusing.
McPherson loves the “resilience” of oil, whilst he admits it may be difficult to work with in comparison with other media.
Committed to carrying out friend and mentor, renown Jamaican artist Barrington Watson’s last wishes to “tackle some artists” to combat a “waning” art, Mortimer continues to tutor from his home studio.
Now putting the ultimate touches to his latest collection for his Full Moon exhibition at Studio Mortimer at 5 Linstar Close, Havendale, on November 27, McPherson would only say the show shall be a “revealing one”. The week-long exhibition, which is open to art students and their teachers, will include art conversations, poetry readings, and music on opening night.