Watson's dream still alive

Watson's dream still alive

Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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A NEW date has been set for installation of Jamaican artist/sculptor Barry Watson's “larger than life” monument of American civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Atlanta. An unveiling ceremony was initially planned for October, but had to be rescheduled due to outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“The pandemic slowed the progress somewhat... Getting people in to do some of the work was a bit slower than normal,” Watson told the Jamaica Observer from his Altanta base yesterday.

“The installation is gonna take place early December; the first week in December actually. I haven't gotten an official confirmation, but I understand they are looking at having a celebration on Martin Luther King Day versus an unveiling,” Watson continued.

Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated on January 18, 2021 and the statue will stand 18-feet in front of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium near Martin Luther King Jr Drive.

Watson — who migrated to the Georgia capital 18 years ago — was selected from 80 other applicants. He was commissioned by the City of Atlanta. He said he is grateful for the assignment, which is his most ambitious to date.

“It is largest, not just the international status of the project, but just the physical structure. The figure itself is two times life-size. The figure is 12-foot and then it is installed on a six-foot pedestal to reach 18 foot in the air, and my responsibility is also designing and getting the pedestal constructed. It has been a challenge on many different fronts,” he said.

“It is an honour to be associated with Dr Martin Luther King. He is definitely an icon. But I do recognise the contribution that Jamaica has made in terms of my development and growth and my recognition,” he continued.

Born in Atlanta, King was a Baptist minister and leader of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, he led the Montgomery bus boycott and also helped organise the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his seminal 'I Have A Dream' speech.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. King was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee, in April 1968.

Watson is the son of master artist Barrington Watson, who passed away on January 26, 2016 at age 85. He is no stranger to projects of this magnitude. His Cradle-Future in our Hands is on display at the Neighborhood Union Health Center in Vine City, Atlanta.

In 2017, he created a seven-foot statue of sprint legend Usain Bolt, which is displayed at National Stadium in Kingston. His other works include statues of sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Merlene Ottey and Herb McKenley.

Last year, his monument of Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley was unveiled in Gordon Town, St Andrew.

Watson was conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander) in 2016 by the Jamaican Government.

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