Gilroy Hippolyte, or artistically GilroyH, is a young visual artist from Gros Islet. As a past student of St Mary’s College, his already established fondness of art was nurtured in true SMC fashion. He has created dozens of pieces, combining visuals of nature with celestial touches, among numerous other styles. Despite not being afforded the full support of Saint Lucian society, GilroyH’s work has rallied recognition. For GilroyH, “my art is my life, and my life is my art”.
What motivated you to become so involved in art?
Gilroy: From a very young age I was always drawing on anything I could get my hands on. I would hide my crayons in my pampers because they would be taken away by my parents, after having to scrub the walls, refrigerators, television, cupboards, picture frames . . . you name it. Those were all my canvases.
I was introduced to painting back in SMC by my art teacher, Ted Sandiford. It was then that I realized I had a natural talent for it. I also found out that the children of Sir Dunstan St. Omer were all family, so the talent runs in the blood. Throughout my difficult times, my ups and downs, art has always been a part of me. It’s rewarding whenever I am able to take a blank canvas and turn it into something captivating that others can also admire.
If someone who has never seen your art asks about it, how would you describe it?
Gilroy: I would say that my art challenges the thoughts and perspectives of those viewing it, providing both the questions and the answers. One just needs to look deeper, not just within the piece itself but within themselves.
What do you get from painting, emotionally or otherwise?
Gilroy: Painting for me is sometimes difficult to explain. It’s relaxing yet frustrating at times, always mysterious because I never know just what the end result will look like. I paint to express different energies I feel at times, and other times I paint just for painting’s sake.
Is there any artist or person in your life who inspires your art?
Gilroy: Yes. However, I pull inspiration from many persons in my life for my artwork. I paint, or create, based on energies, and everyone has their own part to play along this art journey of mine.
Which visual artist do you identify with the most?
Gilroy: To be honest, I have no idea. I find similarities in my work compared to so many different artists, both young and old, all across the globe, all of which I can identify with in some way, shape or form, which helps my growth as an individual and as an artist.
Where would you like to be with your art in the future?
Gilroy: I used to say to myself that one day I will become the Ambassador of Art for Saint Lucia, travelling around the world spreading my artwork, representing not only myself as an artist but my country as well. To have my murals, paintings and other forms of my art within business places, studios, galleries and homes across the globe is a dream I still wish and push for. Though I am nowhere near that as yet, it is still something that I aim to make a reality soon.
Do you believe you receive enough external support?
Gilroy: Yes and no. To be honest, being as introverted as I am, I am not comfortable being in crowds, being in the spotlight or in the public eye too much but, as an artiste and for the sake of my art, it needs to be the complete opposite. I receive so much pressure from my family, friends, loved ones and those who support my art, to get out there more, to grow as an artist. That is a work in progress! As for support, our society just does not make room to really appreciate, support and, more specifically, financially support artists. Too often, I have come across persons with amazing talents who have given up on their gifts. Most, if not all, would simply say that they can’t profit, pay bills, eat or build a career doing what they love. The term ‘struggling artist’ is one that even I have become too familiar with because the support is just too little, if at all. There aren’t enough institutions that focus on developing knowledge, appreciation of the arts and artists in any way, especially amongst our young people, and that is where we need to start.
Why would you encourage others to get involved in art?
Gilroy: As the saying goes, ‘Without ART the EARTH is just EH’. There are so many forms and expressions of art. Each one serves its own purpose in this life. I would encourage anyone to find their own, because it really is what makes life more interestingly beautiful and meaningful.