Pride of Place for Clive Lloyd Painting in a Cricket Museum
By Hubert Williams
Boston, Massachusetts, May 17, 2017 — Finally, it seems the tide is turning towards serious matters in Guyana and I am advised that the prospects of having a national Cricket Museum have brightened considerably – which should gladden the heart of my good friend and colleague Joseph “Reds” Perreira, who has for umpteen years been emphasizing the importance of Guyana having such a facility.
The contribution to a national Museum which I have pledged to “Reds”, and now so do publicly, is a copy of a fabulous painting (titled “Big Cat”) of the world’s most successful Test Cricket captain – Clive Hubert Lloyd.
Once the Museum is ‘up and running’, I will have the gift carefully packaged, shipped and delivered to its executives for continuous public display. It is a smaller version of the original painting (60 inches high, 40 inches wide) which hangs in a private collection in the United States.
I would expect memorabilia and other contributions to the Museum from and of other outstanding Guyanese cricketers through the ages; and support from the Private Sector. Further, many who might have cricket memorabilia
stuffed away in closets and other seldom-visited places would do well to make donations to the Museum.
Some of our CARICOM partners have forged well ahead in establishing cricket museums, and it’s amazing the rapidity with which their contents increase. Such facilities also inform and inspire Caribbean youths towards positive activities and veer them away from the lure of crime.
. Many years ago, when Clive Lloyd first saw his painting at my home in Barbados, he was fascinated by the exceptional talent of the artist – Peter J. Fisher, a very close friend of mine. The remarkably gifted cricketer subsequently signed much smaller copies for limited distribution, as gifts.
There is some fascination, not so much about this
magnificent piece of artistry; but moreso in the relationship between me and Clive Lloyd and me and Peter J. Fisher.
I was the first person to have written an article on the gangling (6’ 4” ) lefthander well before he even played a Test match; and we ‘hit it off’ immediately. When I telephoned him to set up the interview and gave my name, he remarked “You’re Hubert ?… I’m Hubert too”.
I afterward met him at the Almoner’s Office just within the New Market Street entrance of the then Public Hospital Georgetown (PHG), where he was in his first job.
Following an initial discussion, it was agreed the venue was inconvenient and a meeting was arranged for later, at the Demerara Cricket Club, where, on my arrival, he was sitting in the lower pavilion with cousin Lance Gibbs and cricket enthusiast and outstanding barrister Fred Wills. The two stayed through the interview. I later provided Clive with a copy of what I had written.
Reuters News Agency distributed the story globally. Thus, when he missed a century in both innings of his very first Test match – in India – (scoring 82 and 78 not out) the world did not need to ask “who is this Clive Lloyd ?”
Indeed, the only question asked about Clive Lloyd came recently from an Australian admirer of his who was on official business in Boston.
When he walked into a luncheon engagement, he was astounded and wanted to know what was this magnificent portrait of Clive Lloyd doing in an American home ?… until informed that one-half of the couple who owned the home was born in Guyana.
I seem to recall (but am not sure) that Clive had met Peter Fisher in Barbados, where the artist had a seafront home on the West Coast (which all sectors of the Barbados economy previously referred to as the Gold Coast, but now call the Platinum Coast, because of its lavish homes and high-priced luxury hotels).
My first meeting with Peter J. Fisher, at the Heywoods Hotel in the island’s northwest, was sensational. I had gone only to have a look at an advertised art exhibition… but this one was very special, as it included large portraits of current outstanding West Indian batsmen – Lloyd, Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes.
Having gone early, I alone was standing, transfixed, before the large Clive Lloyd painting; then someone behind me asked “Do you like it ?” I turned around, without replying, and there he was, a smiling white man, extending his for a handshake and saying “I am Peter Fisher… I’m the artist” and I accepting his hand while remarking “I think it’s magnificent”.
We talked for a while, as it was early and other viewers had not yet come; and I told him I was from Guyana and knew Clive Lloyd very well; then he shocked me by asking “Would you like to buy it ? “, and I asked: “Is it for sale ?” and he responded “I would sell it to you.” He said how much, and I agreed. The painting remained throughout the exhibition; and there were much higher offers, which he refused. At the close of the exhibition, Peter Fisher had the painting delivered to my home.
We became very close friends, with me as a kind of counselor and adviser, for though he was exceptionally talented, he also had problems.
For the other paintings, the then Governor of the Barbados Central Bank, Sir Courtney Blackman, bought the Gordon Greenidge; the Grantley Adams International Airport the Desmond Haynes; and Ian Botham (the English Test player) bought the one of his great friend Vivian Richards. I seem to recall that there was a painting also of fast bowler Malcolm Marshall (later deceased with cancer).
Because of the exceptional skill demonstrated in these and his other paintings, I requested Peter Fisher to do a portrait of the then President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank, Mr. William Gilbert Demas. He produced a truly amazing piece of artistic work. However, when time came for payment, the project hit a snag – it was out of accord with the Bank’s strict procurement guidelines: As Peter Fisher was an American and the USA not a member of the Bank, his services could not then be procured by the Bank. As the project had been done at my request, I bought the Demas painting, while the Bank proceeded to contract a Caribbean artist for the official Demas portrait.
Nothing on the matter had been communicated to the President. Some time afterwards when he was attending a luncheon at my home, Mr. Demas was “blown away” by the painting (also 60 x 40 inches) prominently positioned on a wall, and, after hearing its background, he offered “any price” for it.
My response was that I could not sell it to him. However, at the time of his retirement from CDB – and in collaboration with a then CDB Vice-President, Marius St. Rose, and Barbados’ top photographer Gordon Brooks, a film of the painting was sent to New York resulting in a seemingly exact replica being shipped to Barbados. This was presented as a departure gift to Mr. Demas from the two of us (Williams/St. Rose).
For some time afterwards, while he was attached to the University of the West Indies Campus at Mona, Jamaica, the painting was hung in his office there; but following that, I have no knowledge of its whereabouts.
There’s another great painting (copy) I received as a gift from Peter Fisher – that of his cousin Mel Fisher, the celebrated explorer who in July 1985, after 16 years of questing the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, located a fabulous treasure off the southeast coast of the United States on the sunken Spanish galleon “Nuestra Senora de Atosha” which had sunk in a hurricane July 1622, while taking treasures from South America/Mexico to Spain. When discovered, the gold gleamed like the day it was minted.
Through Peter Fisher, I had had some contact with Mel Fisher, who has also had some prominence in the USA for his invention of the Fisher Space Pen for America’s astronauts to use while in orbit. It can write normally; it can write in the unique environment (weightlessness) of space; it can write on a ceiling when held upside down; and it can write underwater.
I have never met Mel Fisher, but through Peter spoke on the phone with him, and later received from him through the post a gift of the special pen.
Peter Fisher and Monique Fisher maintained a lovely home on the Barbados West Coast for their periodic visits to the island, also having similar holiday residences in New Zealand and one other location.
Our two families became close, having sip-and-chat visits to each other’s homes and generally socializing; but the more I came to know him, the more I was drawn into his personal issues, to the point of being counselor and adviser.
It turned out, fascinatingly, that his wife was not his wife, except for the peculiar circumstance that they shared a surname… thus she was Miss Fisher. In 14 years of being together, they had never married.
Also, he experienced difficulty in avoiding the Barbados rum, which eased up somewhat only after I had persuaded him towards the Barbados chapter of Al-Anon.
I was astounded to witness more than once the manner in which he created his masterpieces: He would drink and paint, drink and paint, drink and paint… going without food for two or three days… and at the end, if he was satisfied with his work, he would be the happiest person alive… Laughing and singing and ordering a fine meal.
But then, there was the other side: I’ve looked at paintings that I considered great pieces of art, but if for some odd reason he was not satisfied, in a flood of tears he would stomp work into pieces, toss their parts into the sea and watch them float away on the waves.
The counseling duties were not infrequent. Sometimes I would be asleep, the phone rings and it’s Peter Fisher, wanting to get my point of view on a problem or some issue; or about some affair in which he was entangled with a Barbadian female.
Then he and Monique departed the island… as it turned out, for the last time from their idyllic island home named “Chateau Monique”.
When next I heard from Peter Fisher it was via a phone call from Montreal, Canada. He had held an exhibition there, one of the viewers was a beautiful and wealthy French-Canadian businesswoman. They had fallen in love and had agreed to marry… and they later did.
I received a happy letter from him… then a long gap… then a sad letter. She was too serious a woman, as her social group was, for this bubbly painter who at first had enthralled her; and she left him. The problem was, he was deeply in love with her, and asked my intercession.
I spoke by phone with her, and understood her position. At the beginning, she had been fascinated with his different kind of personality… a free spirit, very unlike the staid, suave, upper crust, highly educated males with whom she had been accustomed to socializing in Montreal. But over time, she had tired of him, and decided she wanted more in a permanent partner.
The ball was therefore back in my court, as Peter Fisher persuaded me to ask Monique to resume their relationship.
However, by this time she had relocated to the United States, settled back well and had established her own restaurant business, managing it very successfully.
She was exceedingly tolerant to hear me out; but the answer was that she was getting on very well with her life, and after what Peter had done to her, she was not prepared to retrace steps. It had taken her several years to mend her heart. Peter was shattered with the response.
Sometime afterwards I received information that Peter J. Fisher, back in the United States, had doused himself with petrol and struck a match: self-immolation.
I have great memories of his personality and exceptional talent, in addition to having six paintings by him: the large Clive Lloyd and William Demas originals (in Boston), the Mel Fisher copy (in Barbados), and three small originals (in Boston).