Alvin Marriot

Marriot was born into an artistic family, his mother was a musician and writer while his father made and sold straw items. From an early age, encouraged to explore his own creativity, he developed an interest in wood and earned his earliest commissions when he was still a teenager. After completing school, he apprenticed as a furniture maker. His skills gained him employment locally working with Art Deco furniture designer Burnett Webster executing custom furniture, and then abroad, first as a carpenter in Panama, and later as a farm worker in USA. By the 1940’s, he was featured in local newspapers as an enterprising sculptor: and while in America he presented a bust of then President F.D. Roosevelt, to the White House.

Essentially self-taught, Marriot gained the opportunity to study art formally when he won a British Council scholarship to London. At the Camberwell School of Art, he developed his talents as a sculptor more methodically, adopting the classical style for which he would become renowned. While in London he also worked in the furniture trade but continued to promote himself as a sculptor, even carving a mahogany tray as a wedding gift for Queen Elizabeth.

Marriott returned to Jamaica on the eve of its independence when there was a great deal of interest in replacing colonial European forms with art that better represented a Jamaican aesthetic. Marriot’s talents were immediately commissioned to create busts of all of Jamaica’s recently selected national heroes such as Marcus Garvey and Norman Washington Manley, as well as to create monumental sculptures such as that of Jamaica’s Olympic sprinter Arthur Wint, outside the newly built national stadium. Marriott’s skills were unerring; his talent for capturing the likeness of his sitters whether in wood, clay or bronze made him a popular choice for public commissions. Marriot also became a respected teacher offering his services as a tutor in sculpture to the Jamaica School of Art.

During the 1980s, Marriot contracted Parkinson’s Disease an illness characterized by involuntary shaking that limited his work. Even so, when there was public outcry over the first monument created to commemorate Bob Marley, Marriot was commissioned to sculpt another. His life size figure that depicts Marley, the reggae star in a staid but nevertheless assured representational manner, now stands in Celebrity Park as a testament to the talents of the singer as well Marriot’s skills.