WAYNE BERKELY (1940-2011)
Wayne Berkeley was born in Belmont, Trinidad in 1940. He was educated at St. Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain. While at St. Mary’s College, Berkeley was involved in extra-curricular activities such as teaching art and participating in the Debate Society and the Drama Club. It was the Drama Club that gave young Berkeley the opportunity to tap into his creativity. He designed backdrops for various Shakespearean plays at St. Mary’s, as well as for concerts and plays by Belmont’s Catholic Youth Organization. During this time, Berkeley also attended art classes by one of Trinidad’s renowned artists, Mahmoud Pharouk Alladin.
Berkeley’s interest in the arts encompasses a broad spectrum. He has involved himself in various aspects of art and design, such as fashion designing, carnival costume design and production, displays, art exhibitions, pavilion displays, trade shows, motion picture productions, props, art and crafts, interior designs, architectural designing and live stage show presentations. Berkeley is mostly well-known for his unique and original approach to costume design. In his Carnival designs, Berkeley tries to portray and represent ‘that which cannot be represented’ – the spirit of Carnival.
Perhaps the most important part of Berkeley’s work is that he has developed his own approach to art. He strives to maintain his originality and believes that it is important for artists not to copy other people’s work. In his early years in the industry, some of Berkeley’s Carnival designs had been criticized as ‘entering into a realm not of Carnival’. However, he continued to challenge the ‘history book syndrome’ that carnival costumes of that time had, and was persistent in his creation of fantasy costumes. Berkeley maintains that Carnival costume designing is just like poetry or storytelling. He incorporates a theme that finds its basis in an actual incident or a series of incidents that are typical of human nature. In this way, Berkeley appeals and connects to masqueraders of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities. As a result, Berkeley’s Carnival designs changed the face of Carnival and today many of his costume design concepts have become the norm.
On February 17, 2000, Berkeley suffered a severe stroke, which he did not allow to hinder his accomplishments. Instead, he began to draw with his left-hand. His designs have been acclaimed both nationally and internationally and he is considered to be one of the greatest designers in Carnival costuming.
Wayne Berkeley passed away in June 2011 at the age of 70.