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Stanley Greaves

Stanley Greaves (n. 1935) is a Guyanese painter and writer who is one of the Caribbean's most distinguished artists. Writing in 1995 at the time of a retrospective exhibition to celebrate Greaves's sixtieth birthday, Rupert Roopnarine stated: "It may be that no major Caribbean artist of our time has been more fecund and versatile than Stanley Greaves of Guyana."[1] Greaves himself has said of his own creativity:

"I still don’t talk about myself as making art! Other people do that. I am a maker of things. In the early days, I found empty matchboxes, cigarette boxes, bits of string, wire, empty boot-polish tins, whatever, and made things. Drawing was just another activity, and it still is. My favorite medium is still wood, of course. My hitherto secret preoccupation with writing poems, which has now come to light, is another form of making. Recently at the University of Birmingham, where I did a reading, I was asked if the paintings influenced the poetry, and I said, 'No, they come from the same source.'”[2]


Greaves was born in a "tenement yard" on Carmichael Street, Georgetown, Guyana. He studied Art in Guyana with Edward Burrowes in the Working Peoples' Art Class (1948–61) and from 1963 to 1968 attended University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK, where he studied painting, majoring in sculpture for the B.A.Hons degree in Fine Art. He also earned a Diploma in Art Teaching. He was a Fulbright Scholar from 1979 to 1980 at Howard University, where he did printmaking and sculpture for the MFA degree.

In Guyana Greaves taught at Sacred Heart Primary, St. Stanislaus College (his old schools), Berbice High School, Queen's College, from 1971 to 1975, and was the first Head of the Division of Creative Arts at the University of Guyana from 1975 to 1986. He left Guyana in 1987 and has been resident in Barbados since that time. He now resides in North Carolina.

In Barbados he served on the first art and craft panel designing the syllabus for the Caribbean Examinations Council and has been a part-time tutor at the Barbados Community College. He was elected a Distinguished Honourable Fellow at University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in 2003.[3]

As an artist Greaves works mainly in painting, but has also produced sculpture, drawings, prints and pottery. He was awarded the Guyana national honour of the Golden Arrow of Achievement in 1975. He has exhibited at national level, winning several prizes, and has had one-man shows. He represented Guyana twice at the São Paulo Biennial and once at the Medellin Bienniale in Colombia. He has had major exhibitions in the UK (in 1999 his work was shown in the landmark exhibition curated by Gottfried Donkor, The Elders, alongside that of Brother Everald Brown of Jamaica)[2] and elsewhere in Europe, as well as throughout the Caribbean. He won a gold medal for painting in the Barbados entry at the Santo Domingo Bienniale. He has been exhibiting since arriving in North Carolina, USA, in 2008, at the Fayetteville Museum of Art, Moruca Gallery Washington, the University of Fayetteville and Claflin University in South Carolina..

Over the years his paintings have appeared on the cover of several books of poems mainly.

His collection of poems Horizons, published by Peepal Tree Press in 2002, won the Guyana Prize for Literature in the first book of poems category. His most recent collection is The Poems Man (Peepal Tree Press, 2009). He co-authored, with Anne Walmsley, Art in the Caribbean: An Introduction, published in 2010 by New Beacon Books.

In addition to being a painter and writer, he is an accomplished classical guitarist, having studied with Francisco Gonzalez of Cuba and Pam Frost of Barbados.


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