Donald " Jackie" Hinkson - Biography

b. (September 13, 1942 -) Port of Spain, Trinidad

Parents: A. Lennox Hinkson and Jeanette Hinkson (née Bain)
3rd of six children ­ 4 boys & 2 girls.
Married 1967 to Caryl Blache-Fraser: 2 sons, 1 daughter and 8 grandsons.

Richmond Street Boys Primary School;
Queens Royal College, Trinidad
Academie Julien, Paris, France (1963- 64)  
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (1965 - 70)

His youth - the early influences
Jackie grew up in the community of "Cobo Town", Port of Spain, Trinidad, living with his family in a gabled wooden colonial house with the characteristic roof, portico, wooden jalousies and decorative fretwork, so representative of dwellings built at the turn of the 20th century.
Because his father was a Travelling Officer with the colonial government, Hinkson enjoyed extensive exposure to Trinidad's rural and coastal landscape and architecture, including plantation and village architecture.
These early experiences were to have a decisive influence on his later artistic expression.
During his teenage years he struck up a friendship with a fellow schoolmate which was to prove significant.  With Peter Minshall (later to become internationally renowned as a costume designer) Jackie  worked and discussed art extensively.
Through visits to the Public Library he became familiar with the works of European artists, in particular the Impressionists (especially Cézanne) and English watercolourists.

Five young artists
In 1961, with QRC schoolmate, Peter Minshall, Pat Bishop, Alice Greenhall and Arthur Webb, Hinkson was one of the Five Young Artists whose work premiered at the old Woodbrook Market on French Street in Port of Spain, then the headquarters of the Trinidad Art Society. Through this exhibition another significant artistic link was formed, this time with art critic Derek Walcott, later to be Nobel Laureate for Literature. Walcott's criticisms, encouragement and friendship which began in Hinkson's early teenage years continues to the present.  Their work was featured in October 1998 at the State University of New York at Albany, USA.  


Click on the thumbnail picture to enlarge. From Left to Richt:  Jackie Hinkson, Alice Greenhall peter Minshall, Arthur Webb; sitting in front: Pat Bishop.

Formal art education
Leaving Trinidad in 1963, along with Minshall, Hinkson embarked on a one year scholarship at the Academie Julien in Paris. There, the Impressionist works he had previously only seen in  books were available in reality.
A year later he proceeded on an art scholarship to Canada (BA Fine Arts) and a Dip. Ed. He admired and was influenced there by Abstract Expressionists, Pop Artists and Minimal  Artists.  He also developed a strong interest in sculpture. Five years later, when the north American influence was beginning to have a decisive effect, Hinkson returned to Trinidad.

Native light and rhythms: 1970 - 1995
He was immediately and forcibly struck by the light and rhythms of his native region. He launched himself into plein-air watercolour painting, exploring the medium almost exclusively for the next two and a half decades - working, travelling and exhibiting throughout the Caribbean from Trinidad to Jamaica. During those decades he also worked  in conte crayons, and produced numerous ink sketches.
It is his work during this period which is generally regarded as "Hinkson" and to which many observers draw parallels to the significance of the early watercolourist who recorded Trinidad's landscape in the 19th Century - Jean-Michel Cazabon.

A significant body of Hinkson's work in conte crayons was produced during 1982-1985 when he was commissioned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to produce One Hundred pieces of work showing the "disappearing architecture" of the country. Some of these works are in the collection of the National Museum and Art Gallery, Port of Spain.

From the mid-1990s Hinkson resumed working in oils and his later exhibitions included a number of large canvases. Simultaneously he worked on figurative wood sculptures in cedar, samaan, mango and a variety of tropical woods - his interest rekindled by the German sculptress Luise Kimme residing in Tobago. An exhibition of these wood sculptures was held in 1999.
Visits to Europe at that time added another dimension to the themes of his watercolours, and he produced several sketches and paintings while in Florence, London, Paris and other cities.
In recent years Hinkson has been working closely with Barbadian born artist Ian "Sundiata" Stewart. The two share a common interest in plein air watercolour painting and wood sculpture.

Continuing interest in art studies
Hinkson's interest in other artists work continues with particular interest in the work of watercolourists John Sell Cotman, William Turner and especially Winslow Homer.  Homer's Bahamas watercolours have had a strong influence on Hinkson. Piero della Francesca, Titian, Goya, Chardin, Edward Hopper and Homer are some of the artists whose work he particularly admires, and locally, the late Carlisle Chang, Sybil Atteck, M.P. Alladin, Leo Basso, Isaiah James Boodhoo and Boscoe Holder. He also has high regard for the works of his contemporaries Edward Bowen, Lisa O'Connor and Sundiata and for the etchings of Wendy Nanan.

1998 Exhibitions - USA and UK
In October, 1998, 30 of the watercolours of Jackie Hinkson and 20 of Derek Walcott's pieces were exhibited at the University of New York, Albany.
In October 1999 Hinkson exhibited 50 different works in mixed media at the Mall Gallery, London.

The artist evolves
Over the past 20 years Hinkson has expanded his repertoire of subjects and his range of media.  In addition to the numerous (more than 75) sketch pads that he has filled with sketches and visual notes on people, places and events, he has also produced a series of 14 large oils in which he has depicted events from the life of Christ in a contemporary Trinidadian context.  These works exhibited in 2002 and 2003 and have received wide national acclaim. (click here to see images of the mural on the Murals page).
In 2002 the Unit Trust Corporation sponsored a retrospective of Hinkson's work, curated by Pat Bishop, covering some 40 years. It included exhibitions of drawings and sculpture, watercolours, oils and murals (including the Life of Christ series).  This retrospective was the impetus for a book conceived by Pat Bishop and published in December 2003 on Hinkson's drawings, "Drawing for Days" ­ 40 years of Drawings by Jackie Hinkson. In April 2006 a book, portfolio and DVD were published (see publication page).
Hinkson continues to draw extensively and to paint plein-air watercolours and oils. He has completed a new series  of figurative wood sculptures and is currently working on a 8 1/2 foot by 100 foot mural entitled "Masquerade" in which certain aspects of Trinidad society are portrayed, at times satirically, through the metaphor of Carnival.  This work reflects an increasing tendency in Hinkson's expression towards social commentary as further evidenced in his 2009 drawing exhibition at the Softbox Studios (see exhibition drawings click here).

In 2010 Hinkson started a series of oils depicting the contemporary urban landscape.

Significant Milestones, Periods

Cobo Town
Childhood experiences in Cobo Town (Charles, Richmond and Shine Streets) where the artist's family lived, left indelible impressions of the people and the vernacular architecture.

Rural Travels

Travels with his brothers and father (a travelling officer) left on his young mind images of rural, coastal and plantation settings that would later figure prominently in his work.

The adolescent schoolboy discovers Cézanne and English landscape watercolourists in library books. Friendship with Peter Minshall strengthens his determination to pursue art.
At that time Hinkson joined the Trinidad Art Society where he first discovered the works of Trinidad's leading artists and where, in 1961, with Minshall, Pat Bishop, Alice Greenhall and Webb he participated in his first significant exhibition.




One year art scholarship to Paris gives him opportunity to experience first hand the works of Cézanne and the impressionists whose works he had previously known only from reproductions.
At right: Oil painting of Jackie's room during this time.





A 5-year scholarship to University of Alberta, Edmonton, exposes him to more recent movements, Minimalism, Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism and Installation Art. Interest in sculpture is born.


Return to
Trinidad & Tobago
Cathartic rediscovery of light and heat of outdoor Trinidad and Tobago leads to 20 plus years of intense plein air watercolour painting and drawing.


Government Commission
Government commissions artist to produce 100 works (drawings and watercolours) of disappearing traditional architecture of Trinidad and Tobago.



First Exhibition of mural-sized work at QRC Hall.


CLICO Calendar
CLICO commissions the artist to travel through the Caribbean islands to paint traditional fishing boats and to draw typical vendors.


Albany N. Y.

The State University of New York, Albany, invites Artist to participate in joint exhibition with Derek Walcott. Watercolours by Hinkson 1998.
Click on exhibition: SUNY. Albany Campus USA (October)
Photos of opening: click here

London Exhibition
Artist exhibits oils, drawings and water colours at the Mall Gallery, London
click on Mall Gallery, London England. (November)

Sculpture Exhibitions


101 Art Gallery, Tragarete Road, Port of Spain- ( see sculpture page - click here)
1999- Keskidee Culture Laboratory - St Clair






A retrospective of the artist's work over the preceding 40 years is sponsored by the Unit Trust Corporation under the direction of Pat Bishop. It includes drawings, watercolours, oils, acrylics, murals and sculpture. The exhibitions are held at various locations. A book on the artist's drawings is conceived and the groundwork done. (see Publications page)



"40 Years of Drawings", a book conceived by Pat Bishop in 2002, is published in 2003. It contains essays by Pat Bishop, Kenwyn Crichlow and the artist's son, Sean Hinkson, and features drawings in a wide range of media and themes throughout the artist's career.  See publications page, click here


Book, Portfolio and
DVD "Christ in Trinidad"


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