A Tribute to Geoffrey MacClean 1942-2024
April 3, 2024

It is with deep sadness and profound gratitude that we remember Geoffrey MacLean, a valiant defender of our national heritage. Born in Pointe-à-Pierre, Geoffrey dedicated his life to the conservation and celebration of our nation’s artistic and architectural treasures. His passion and commitment have left an indelible mark on our cultural landscape, making him a figure of national significance and affection.

Geoffrey’s work in promoting historic and contemporary art and architecture across Trinidad and Tobago has been unparalleled. As a conservationist, his efforts in the restoration of historic buildings have not only preserved our physical heritage but have also raised public awareness about the importance of conservation. He was the Nation’s leading authority on Michel-Jean Cazabon, Trinidad’s National Hero, and celebrated nineteenth-century artist, manifested in seminal publications that brought Cazabon’s work to the forefront of national consciousness. Geoffrey’s diligent research and publications, including Views of Trinidad, 1851, and the biographies and collections on Cazabon, have become cornerstone resources for understanding Trinidad’s artistic heritage. In 2015, he assisted in the Government acquisition and exhibition of ten Cazabon Paintings that were on auction.

Moreover, Geoffrey’s contributions extended far beyond his work on Cazabon. His publications on Noel Norton and Boscoe Holder, alongside numerous essays and catalogues for art exhibitions, have significantly contributed to the documentation and appreciation of Trinidad and Tobago’s art history. Geoffrey’s role as a curator brought our nation’s art to international stages, promoting our cultural identity globally and fostering appreciation and dialogue.

His advisory work with public and corporate collections, including the Prime Minister’s Collection at White Hall and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, has been instrumental in curating pieces that reflect our national story. His efforts culminated in notable exhibitions such as Four Decades of Pride, The Art Collection, and The Story of Our Nation, which not only celebrated our artistic achievements but also commemorated significant milestones in our history. His last exhibition was ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ jointly curated with Martin Mouttet at the Medulla Art Gallery. This Gallery was another area of his contribution as he facilitated many a launch, exhibition, or meeting.

Geoffrey was a foundation member of the Citizens for Conservation, a past President of the TTIA and a Council member of the National Trust both from 2000 to 2008 and again from 2014 to 2019 and served as Deputy Chairman for part of that time. As a tribute to the Fiftieth anniversary of the Nation’s Independence in 2012, Geoffrey collected and curated a book of 50 Heritage buildings in Trinidad and Tobago for the National Trust and this book is still a popular gift item. Even after he demitted office on the Council Geoffrey willingly gave of his time to provide advice on a range of heritage issues including the Old Police Headquarters in San Fernando as he was also on the San Fernando Heritage Trust for many years.

Geoffrey’s involvement with the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects, Citizens for Conservation, and the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago underscored his commitment to architectural preservation and conservation advocacy. His leadership and vision were vital in steering conversations and actions towards safeguarding our heritage for future generations.

Geoffrey MacLean’s legacy is a testament to a life lived in passionate service to the preservation of Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural heritage. As we remember him, we are reminded of the responsibility we share in continuing his work, ensuring that our nation’s cultural and historical treasures are cherished and preserved. Geoffrey’s dedication, passion, and achievements will continue to inspire and guide us in the stewardship of our cultural heritage. The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago mourns the loss of a true cultural icon but celebrates the legacy he leaves behind.

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