First published: Summer 2021
“Very technical work; it come in like artist’s work.” So Reginald English described his vocation as a maker of painted metal cut-outs. Born in Highgate, Saint Mary, Jamaica, in either 1929 or 1937 (he said both dates at different times), he later moved to Boscobel, also in Saint Mary, to a house on the main north coast highway.
English in 1995 with his artwork, photos: Wayne Cox
He was trained as a tinsmith and earned money making household items, such as dog chains, washpan buckets, funnels and scoops. He also worked as a security guard, and played the banjo and rhumba box – a plucked box musical instrument of the Caribbean – in a hotel band. In 1972, English was taught to draw by a visitor to the island, who then suggested that he combine his fanciful drawings with his metalwork.
English’s artwork displayed outside his roadside shop, photo: C Kristen
English drew “all different ting inna Jamaica shape – man a-ride horse, man a-ride donkey, man a-lead cow, all different ting”. He started transferring the drawings to metal sheets from the local hardware store, and then cut out the drawings with a machete – squared off and used like a chisel – and coloured them with enamel paint. After a while, he set up a roadside shop in the yard of his Boscobel home. With his bright creations hanging from the house and from a display unit made from old tree branches and bits of wood, passers-by could easily spot his business.
by Christine Kristen
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #108