Master Artist and national icon, Le Roy Clarke. (Image courtesy the Clarke Family)

The Clarke Family has issued an official statement on the passing of Master Artist and national icon, the late LeRoy Clarke.

The family of LeRoy Clarke, Chief Ifa’ Oje’ Won Yomi Abiodun, wishes to announce that he has transitioned to the realm of the ancestors. The Belmont-born Master Artist, author, poet, philosopher and national icon passed away on the morning of Tuesday, July 27, at his Cascade home “Legacy House” after a period of illness.

Clarke’s artistic career, which spanned more than five decades, was filled with memorable events and accolades. He was the recipient of several national and community awards, including the prestigious Sylvester Williams’ 2000, presented by The Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, he was proclaimed a National Icon by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. In that same year, he was a distinguished guest of The President of The Republic of Suriname for Carifesta VIII, and confirmed as an Icon, a National Living Treasure by the Trinidad Hilton. He was further garlanded by N.A.E.A.P, The National Association for the Empowerment of African People, with the Achievement of Excellence Award.

The one achievement that he allowed himself to be defined by, however, occurred in 2005 when he was awarded the “Staff of Eldership” and given the Chieftaincy Title of the Orisha community by the Ile’ Eko Shango/Oshun Mil’osa (I.E.S.O.M.) during the sixth annual Shango/Oshun Rain Festival. Later that year, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, and in December of 2008, he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the same university.

Recognised as a Master Artist by the National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago, Clarke was known regionally and internationally for his prolific output and his sweeping, epic works that spoke to and for Caribbean people of African descent. He authored many publications, including a few limited editions, and of his many exhibitions over the decades, the most recent were “Eye Haiti” and “Season’s Vicissitudes”.

The passing of such a titan has left a gap in the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, and the diaspora. His family respectfully requests privacy as they, along with the many people whose lives he touched, celebrate his life. A memorial is planned for August and the public is encouraged to share memories and thoughts on the website leroyclarke.com.