Alvin Marriot (1902 - 1992) - The National Library of Jamaica

Alvin Marriot (1902 - 1992)

Alvin Marriot was born in Essex Hall, St. Andrew in 1902 the son of Robert Marriot, hatter and cultivator and Emily his wife. In 1913 the family moved to Port Antonio, the then tourist capital of the island, where the business of hatter was likely to be more successful. It was while a pupil at the Titchfield School that young Alvin showed some indication of his talent. He soon became famous for his drawings.

The transition from paper to something more substantial came quickly. The forms were transferred to substance when he began carving in the soft limestone found around Port Antonio. First effort was the reproduction of a doll’s head to placate his distraught sister.

Following the death of his father in 1923 the family removed to Kingston and Alvin, as the eldest of seven children, had a large share of the responsibility of caring for the family. He soon completed a lion carving which he sold for 30 shillings. His bust of King George V was soon placed on display at Headquarters House and his bust of Governor Richards gained much acclaim. Busts of many prominent members of the society were produced and sold to maintain his family – he had married Beatrice Black, his school friend in 1928. During the 1930s, he was employed to Jamaica Sawmill as a furniture designer and some of his creations won prizes at exhibitions. In 1938 at the first arts and crafts exhibition held at St. George’s College, Alvin Marriot was awarded a Certificate of Merit. In 1940 he went to Panama as a carpenter primarily to widen his experience. His talent soon won for him the right to carry on his art as well as the acclaim of the press and society. Returning to Jamaica the following year he continued in furniture carving for a living but never forsook sculpture. In 1944 he again indulged his desire to travel by enlisting as a farm worker for the United States. There, the Hartford Times soon took up the story of this farm worker with the talent of sculpting. Among his works there, some of which have been exhibited publicly, was the bust of the then President of the U.S.A. Franklyn D. Roosevelt. On his return to Jamaica, the artist who had never had a day’s instruction in art, decided to take some action. He applied for and received a British Council Scholarship to Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in England, for the academic year 1947-1948. Impressed with his performance, the school recommended a further year extension during which period he was paid as a lecturer to the diploma and intermediate classes in the institution. His name was placed on the honour roll of the school and his efforts were exhibited widely. After a brief visit home he returned to England where he gained employment on a restoration project at the House of Commons. On completion of this work in 1950 he was among those lauded at a function held to mark the event.

To broaden his experiences still further, Marriott worked later as master carver for some noted designers including Beresford and Hicks, Gable and Taft, and Maples. On returning to Jamaica in 1951 he was employed for three years in carving the series of Coat of Arms which decorate the roof of the University chapel as well as the mahogany pelican for the lectern.

Alvin Marriott tutored at the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts from 1955-61. He left to take up a commission to create the Olympic statue, which now adorns our National Stadium. This was completed in 1962 and later unveiled by her Royal Highness Princess Margaret before the 9th Central American and Caribbean Games.

In 1965 Marriott was awarded a gold Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica and in 1967 the Jamaica Badge of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honour list for long and meritorious service to the nation in the field of arts.

He died on September 20, 1992.