During the pre-independence period there were several persons who would’ve laid the foundation for the development of art and education in Guyana. They dedicated their lives to the service of others so that all could share the experience of individual and collective excellence. Four such persons (E.R. Burrowes, Marjorie Broodhagen, Edna Cadogan and Agnes Jones) recognized the need for strengthening both the art and education sectors. Further, they envisioned and, to a large extent, realized the potential that this combination could have for breaking through barriers. Altogether they have changed the lives of countless Guyanese and through their own herculean efforts, reasserted the nation’s position within the regional art, education and culture discourse. These are their stories.
E.R. Burrowes (b. 1903 d. 1966)
Edward Rupert Burrowes was born in Barbados but arrived in Guyana as a young child. He would spend the rest of his life here and would later become known as the “Father of Art” in Guyana.
In 1930 Burrowes participated in a group exhibition along with his contemporaries including Guy Sharples, Hubert Moshett, Vivian Antrobus, Reggie Phang and Sam Cummings. The subsequent formation of the British Guiana Arts and Crafts Society (BGACS) in 1931 is thought to be a direct link to that exhibition.
A few years after that in 1945, Burrowes along with Hubert Moshett founded the Guiana Art Group. Burrowes also founded the Working Peoples' Free Art Class (later changed to the Working People’s Art Class) in 1948 with the intention of giving ordinary working people an opportunity to develop their artistic talents.
The following year he received a British Council scholarship to attend the Brighton College of Art where he specialized in block printing. After the completion of the programme he exhibited his work in the Royal Society of British Artists. The college offered him a scholarship for an additional year but Burrowes opted instead to return to his homeland. When he returned in 1950, he was appointed Art teacher at the Government Teachers’ Training College.
In 1954 Burrowes was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire for services to art in British Guiana. Two years later in 1956 he spent some time teaching Art and Art History at Queen's College.
Dr. Denis Williams founded Guyana’s first art school in 1975 and named the institution after Burrowes, as a way of honouring his invaluable contributions to the development of art in Guyana.
Marjorie Broodhagen (b. December 12, 1912 d. May 23, 2000)
Marjorie Broodhagen was born on Carmichael Street, Georgetown but grew up in Vreed-en-hoop on the West Coast of Demerara. She was one of Guyana’s most outstanding women artists who trained in Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Her formal education began at the Sacred Heart RC School and continued at the St. Joseph’s Mercy Convent School where she learnt drawing and painting, and passed with distinction at the Junior and Senior Cambridge Examinations.
Broodhagen was awarded a scholarship by the Sisters of Mercy to study Art at Columbia University Teachers’ College in the United States of America. She later graduated from the institution with a Diploma in Teaching as well as a Diploma in Fine Art.
She eventually returned to teach at the convent after completing those programmes and later moved over to The Bishops’ High School until her retirement in 1970. However, she was recalled two years into her retirement. Broodhagen then taught at the St. Stanilaus College until 1982 when she retired for the second time. At some point she also taught for one year at the Carnegie Trade School.
Broodhagen was trained in painting, drawing, textiles, calligraphy, advertising and ceramics. After mastering the technique of Chinese brushwork she went on to design illuminated addresses for distinguished visitors including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Sir Seretse Khama, Julius Nyerere, Yakubu Gowan and Indira Ghandi.
She designed a number of postage stamps including the 18th Summer Olympics in 1964; the Girl Guides Golden Jubilee in 1974; Republic of Guyana stamps showing the head of a Wai Wai Chief; the Government Trust in 1974; and several stamps commemorating the End of the Decade of Women. Broodhagen was also commissioned to paint a mural for the Bank of Guyana in 1967, which she titled “National Resources.”
Although she was exhibiting her own artwork as early as the 1930s in various groups, she was responsible for spearheading the first set of exhibitions of women’s art in the 1960s.
Broodhagen was later elected founding member of the Guyana Women Artists’ Association in 1987 and subsequently served the association for a number of years.
Edna Cadogan (b. November 26, 1925 d. March 28, 2016)
Edna Gwendoline Cadogan’s early years of education were spent at the St. Angela’s Ursuline Convent. She went on to further her studies at the Government Training College of British Guiana where she came under the training of art veteran Edward Rupert Burrowes; the Institute of Education of the University of London (1957) where she pursued a one-year Associate Degree programme in Education with an emphasis on Art; and finally the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico (1968) where she received her Masters in Education.
During her years of service in Guyana, Cadogan worked as both educator and administrator. While employed at the Government Training College, she held several offices including lecturer; senior lecturer in charge of the Art department; Deputy Principal; and finally Principal, after the institution moved from their Battery Road, Kingston location and was renamed the Cyril Potter College of Education. She also held the post of Assistant Registrar at the University of Guyana.
In 2003, Cadogan was presented an award for her 75 years of active service in the field of Education. In 2010, the Guyana Women Artists’ Association (GWAA) recognized her stellar contributions to the group with a Long Service Award, in the form of a wooden sculpture carved by local artist Winslow Craig.
Cadogan has contributed to a number of exhibitions hosted by the Guiana Art Group, the Guyana Women Artists’ Association and has held exhibitions at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico between the years 1964 and 1965.
Agnes Jones (b. October 1, 1921 d. November 30, 2008)
Agnes Rebecca Jones spent the formative years of her childhood at the St Mary-the-Virgin Anglican School in Beterverwagting, East Coast, Demerara. After moving back to Georgetown she attended the Freeburg and St Philip’s Anglican Schools and eventually went on to study at the Bishop’s High School.
Jones attended the Government Training College in 1941 where she was taught Art by the Barbadian artist Golde White and eventually graduated with a Class 1 Trained Teachers’ Certificate two years later. In 1955 she received a scholarship for an advanced education course at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom. After completing that programme she went on to pursue a Diploma in the Psychology of Childhood at the University of Birmingham. Jones later received her Master of Education degree at the University of Leicester.
She taught at the Broad Street Government School and the Government Training College before transferring to the then Department of Education where she held several offices including Assistant Education Officer; Education Officer for a number of sectors; Senior Education Officer; Supervisor of the In-service Teachers’ Training Programme; Coordinator of the Curriculum Development Programme; and Coordinator of the Nursery Education Programme. Jones lectured in the Faculty of Education, University of Guyana for ten years and also served as administrator of the E.R. Burrowes School of Art.
Jones later joined a group of female educators (Mrs. Olga Bone, Ms. Mavis Pollard and Hazel Campayne) to address and work towards raising the standard of education in the country. This group of women, eventually joined by other volunteer tutors held free remedial classes in English and Mathematics for students in the vicinity of Georgetown.
She attended the Working People’s Art Class directed by Edward Burrowes between 1953 and 1955. She has exhibited her artwork with the Guiana Art Group (1946 and 1951); the Working People’s Art Class at the Commonwealth Institute in London (1955); the National Exhibition held during Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1966; and the Women Artists’ group led by Marjorie Broodhagen (1967).
Jones also served as president of the Guyana Women Artists’ Association and in 1993 was appointed member of the management committee of the National Gallery of Art.
In 1992 Jones was awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement for her outstanding contributions to Education in Guyana.
This article was first published in the 50th Independence Anniversary supplement of the Guyana Chronicle on May 25, 2016. Click on the link to be redirected to the E-paper: