DONALD LOCKE, an inter-nationally-known artist and lecturer, is an enigma of the art world. His work, which comes out of his personal experiences and study at home and abroad, does not fit into any standard mode of sculpture or painting. Even the title of this exhibit, “The Edge of Spirit,” is a question. Locke says that “spirit” is “used to refer to the reality of a thing and not as it appears in the ‘canon of realism’.” Interestingly, enough Carlo Carra, the Italian surrealist painter, would agree. In “The Quadrant of Spirit” (1919) he stated, “I know perfectly well how little importance vain philosophizing is, but people always tend to attribute qualities to us that are quite aside from what we are aiming at…. The painter-poet feels that his true immutable essence comes from that invisible realm that offers him an image of eternal reality” Yet Locke refuses to use the term “surrealism” to describe his work. He believes that to be labeled is to be confined to narrow standards. As far as it is possible to do so, Locke has freed himself from all art stereotypes.
Born in 1930 in Stewartville, Guyana, South America, he was the second son of Ivy Mae Harper, a primary school teacher, and Donald Locke, Sr., a highly skilled furniture maker who at the age of nineteen was foreman of the pattern-making workshop at the sugar plantation where he worked. In 1938 the family moved to the capital, Georgetown, where Locke attended Bourda Roman Catholic School and Smith’s Church Congregational School.
At seventeen, he began painting under E.R. Burrowes, an artist and teacher in the Working People’s Free Art Class in Georgetown, Guyana. In 1954 he was awarded a British Council Scholarship and studied at the Bath Academy in Wiltshire, England, where he received a Teaching Certificate in Art Education with a Supplementary Certificate in the Visual Arts with Museum and Drama (equivalent to a B. A.). There he studied painting under William Scott and Bryan Wynter, pottery under James Tower, and sculpture under Ken Armitage and Bernard Meadows.