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The Bahamas

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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Anthony "BigMo" Morley: "The Bahamas on Canvas: Historic and Nostalgic”

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Anthony "BigMo" Morley: "The Bahamas on Canvas: Historic and Nostalgic”


Growing up on the Island of Grand Bahama in the quaint settlement of Eight Mile Rock, Anthony “Big Mo” Morley’s artistic Journey began. Surrounded by the beauty of nature; the beautiful flowers that bloomed in the spring, the hibiscus in all its varied colours, the yellow elders and the magnificent poincianas which lit up the evening sky, blended with the yellows and oranges of the sunset all set Morley’ creative juices flowing.

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Anthony Morley grew up on the shoreline where his encounters with the sea and sea life took shape. He marvelled at the hues of blues which seemed to hardly change with the shifting clouds and the indigo sky. He loved picking and eating the seagrapes which grew wild and in abundance on the shorelines, but he was more interested in the many shades of green and the changing pallets of the seagrape leaves that cluttered the coast, particularly in the autumn.

It did not take long for Morley to begin his adventures of transferring his inspirations to the canvas. He began sketching on the cardboard which was discarded from his mother’s pantyhose package until a sketchbook was purchased for him by Mr Allan Martin, a pastor and surrogate father, who admired his work.

Morley’s first drawing was that of a shipwreck and his first paintings were a sunset and moonlight sky all of which were framed and displayed in his home at Martin Town in Eight Mile Rock. Being a product of his environment, Morley began drawing and painting images of the clapboard houses and the native wooden boats or sloops which lined the shore of West End, Grand Bahama. His favourite boat to paint was the Lady Nay a fishing boat owned by his mother, Naomi.

At school, Morley’s talents were discovered by his art teacher who helped in his development. He was taught to blend colours and to shade by Mr Charles Farrow, his art teacher at the Freeport High School. With a photographic background, a love for festival designing, costume making and a diverse background in many art disciplines, Morley's determination is still fixed and set on recording the history of The Bahamas; on canvas.

The images on in display "The Bahamas on Canvas: Historic and Nostalgic" were inspired by old postcards that Morley found in the trash at a friend’s office. These postcards originate from photographs done in the 19th century by the likes of Jacob Coonley, a New York photographer who had migrated to take up residence in the islands. His young Bahamian apprentice, James Osborne “Doc” Sands originally from Eleuthera, fell into hand-painting many postcards, some of which comprise NAGB National Collection-the country's cultural patrimony- better reflecting the reality of life in the tropics. These historical images continue to inspire contemporary artists to look into the past helping them find a way to negotiate their unique voices and stories about this Bahamian space.