Stanley Greaves

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Stanley Greaves (born 1934) [1] 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 60th 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." [2] 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." [3]


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) [1] 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.

Before and while 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 and it was extended. [4]

Work as an artist

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) [3] 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, the State University of North Carolina. and Claflin University in South Carolina, the OAS in Washington, and Castellani House in Guyana. [5] In 2014 he celebrated his 80th birthday with an exhibition of 24 paintings based on his reading of the novels of the renowned Guyanese author Wilson Harris.The paintings were also shown at the OAS in 2015. He also won the gold medal for painting in the 2017 Guyana Visual Arts and Craft Exhibition where he declared it was his last showing in that exhibition. 2018 he showed photographs of 14 sculptures -The El dorado Series sponsored by Diamond distilleries. The actual works were shown at the OAS 2019.

Over the years his paintings have appeared on the cover of several books. He has also done pen and ink illustrations for poems of Martin Carter, Ian Mc David, both distinguished Poets of the Caribbean.


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. [6] 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. "Haiku" is his third book. Each contains pen and ink drawings. He has also collaborated with Akima Mc Pherson of the University of Guyana to write a series of articles in the Sunday Stabroek on individual works in the Guyana National Collection.


In addition to being a painter and writer, Greaves also plays the classical guitar, self taught in the beginning until afforded the opportunity of studying for a year with Cuban guitarist Francisco Gonzalez, who was on a cultural exchange program and four years with Pam Frost of Barbados, during which time he'd composed several works for the guitar.

Personal life

Greaves was for a time married to the painter Alison Chapman-Andrews. [7]

Selected awards

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  1. 1 2 Rupert Roopnarine, "Master Maker: Stanley Greaves", Caribbean Beat , Issue 72 (March/April 2005).
  2. Rupert Roopnarine, "Stanley Greaves of Guyana – A Caribbean Master", El Dorado, April 1995.
  3. 1 2 Anne Walmsley, "Stanley Greaves", BOMB , Issue 86, 1 January 2004.
  4. Al Creighton, "Stanley Greaves – artist, poet, Honorary Fellow", Arts on Sunday, Stabroek News , 29 June 2003.
  5. 1 2 "Renowned artist to make presentation at National Gallery", Kaieteur News , 21 October 2012.
  6. "Winning Entries 2002", Guyana Prize for Literature.
  7. AirBourne (15 September 2010). "Barbadian Art Glut: Alison Chapman Andrews' Collection in the City; 'There & Back' at Bridgetown Gallery; 'A-Merge' at the Main Guard, Garrison & 'Tierra Y El Mar' at Aweipo, Crane Resort". Bajan Reporter. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  8. Rosaliene Bacchus, "On the Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence Day: A Tribute to Stanley Greaves", Three Worlds One Vision ~ Guyana – Brazil – USA", 26 May 2013.