Renowned artist Sir Dunstan St. Omer dies
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – Sir Dunstan St. Omer, the renowned artist and muralist who designed the national flag of St. Lucia, has died. He was 87.
“The Family of Sir Dunstan St Omer informs that Sir Dunstan St Omer passed away peacefully at 11:25pm on the 5th day of May, 2015, with his family around him, at his residence, at Union,” a brief statement issued by the family stated.
The Folk research Centre (FRC) said that Sir Dunstan’s murals graced the altars of many St. Lucian churches, including the notable Holy Family Mural at Church of the Holy Family at Jacmel, Roseau.
In 1946, Sir Dunstan left St Lucia for Curacao to work with Dutch Oil; there he was influenced by Greek painter Pandelis.
When he returned to St Lucia in 1949 he received a scholarship to go to Puerto Rico where he studied art for a year and returned home to work with mentor Harry Simmons as sub-editor at the Voice newspaper, eventually replacing him from 1959-1962. Sir Dunstan worked with the Ministry of Education as an art specialist and remained there until he retired in 2000.
Sir Dunstan’s first mural was commissioned by Fr. Joseph Vrignaud, for the altar of Our Lady’s Chapel at La Clery, north of here.
He would go on to paint several more throughout the island, drawing acclaim and criticism for his depictions of black divinity.
‘If my faith depends on Christ being white, I think I will lose my faith because the relationship that exists in the world between the white race and the black race is one of prejudice and inferiority for the blacks,” Sir Duncan once stated.
He was awarded a Papal Medal by the Catholic Church and the St Lucia Cross by the St Lucia government on the occasion of the island’s 25th Anniversary.
In 2007 the FRC declared him a National Cultural Hero and two years later he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the West Indies, followed a year later by the award of the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).
Sir Dunstan, who was regarded as the father of the prismism style of painting, was married to Cynthia St. Croix. They had nine children.