Albert Huie

Albert Huie always claimed he was born to be an artist. His mother and grandmother who raised him worried about his strange reserved personality and the fact that he spent so much time observing nature or questioning his station in life. Brought up in a strong matriarchal and conservative setting that emphasized discipline and religion, Huie was not encouraged to ponder on the fact that his father, then living in Cuba, had named him Alphonso after the then Cuban president, in fact his grandmother insisted that he be called by his third name – Albert - after Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. Despite his earliest scratches on the pantry wall at home, it was not until his teens, that he would find an environment that would stimulate his social awareness and creative abilities.

In 1934, Huie visited Kingston for the first time. Still a youth, he took a keen interest in the pending general election; the political discussions at his cousin’s tailoring establishment on Tower St, the Sunday meetings at Parade held by St William Grant as well as the Christmas morning concert. In fact it was the concert that inspired his first painting entitled The Dance depicting people in their fineries.

In 1936, Huie returned to Kingston to work. He lived by his hands, decorating glass and chinaware with enamel designs. This enabled him to buy his own paint and art materials and pursue his own art in earnest. In 1937, Huie met H.D. Molesworth, then Secretary Librarian of the Institute of Jamaica who still new to his appointment was energized by Jamaica and keen to encourage local talent. Molesworth was the first person to give value to Huie’s work, assisting him his first sale, Molesworth also introduced Huie to Edna Manley and it was under her aegis that he became involved in the free Saturday morning art classes held at the Institute’s Junior Centre. There, Huie joined a young band of artists - expatriates and locals - exchanging skills and ideas, unified by nationalist concerns. This growing sense of Jamaican identity was made manifest in the period by the conscious depiction of the black Jamaicans, genre scenes and renewed interest in the Jamaican landscape.

Huie’s passion for the depiction of Jamaica has remained consistent over the years, and if there has been any criticism of his work, it is that it has remained within this same conservative vein. His style of painting has also changed little, After winning a British Council scholarship in 1947 to study in London, he adopted impressionist techniques of capturing Caribbean light and form that have become distinctive. Yet, French impressionism was just a vehicle for Huie – his concerns were wholly Jamaican and his paintings emphatically reflected this. Even after moving to Canada for health reasons, Huie continued to paint the land and its people into his eighties revisiting vistas and subjects that had come to chracterize his work and were always popluare with Jamaican viewers. Huie's work can be found in nearly all the important local collections and has been the subject of a recent monograph by the art historian Edward Lucie-Smith.