For groups visiting my studio, this is how I round off my introductory talk about my work as a painter and sculptor. Although I have given the talk on hundreds of occasions, I have never given the same talk twice. My audience sets the pace and I play it by ear as we go along. Just as I swear that I have not repeated myself, neither has my audience when it comes to asking questions.
Once, when I introduced my work to a class of primary school children, a little girl’s hand shot up and she asked, “Mr Burnett, why are your statues so rude!”. She was of course referring to my nude figures. There followed an intellectual debate that could have put many university graduates to shame.
There is however one question that follows a general pattern. That being, “Which artists have inspired you the most?” Although I can rhyme off most of the Impressionists, and certainly Rodin, my inspiration very often comes from other forms of creative expression: literature, poetry, music, theatre and dance.
I shall always remember an inspirational talk by the late Christopher Gable, former lead dancer with the Royal Ballet. The same goes for the presentation given by Muhammad Muwakil at last year’s Dominica Literary Festival. Numerous jazz musicians have also spurred my creative zeal.
Above all, I shall never forget the inspirational debt that I owe to the late Sheila Hyndman, a young
poet who was my good friend and muse. Shortly before Sheila’s death, I illustrated a book of her poems. Today’s picture is the woodcut I made for the cover. Virgin Island