Mahmoud Pharouk Alladin (1919-1980)

MP Alladin

M.P. Alladin was born in 1919 in Tacarigua. He was the second of five children, three sisters and a brother. Alladin was an orthodox Muslim, fluent in Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. He was one of the leading artists in this country who was well-known internationally for his work in Art and Art Education. For this reason he was regularly invited to present lectures and participated in international conferences. Alladin belonged to a creative family, whose father was a craftsman who excelled in drumming and music.

Alladin’s parents encouraged his love for painting, drawing, writing, poetry and music. He was educated at the Tacarigua Canadian Mission School and later employed as an Assistant Teacher from 1938 to 1946.  During 1946- 1947, he served as headmaster of Arima Boys’ Government School. However, teaching at a primary school would not remain the profession for this future Picasso.

He opted to further his studies at the Government Training College. He excelled academically and topped the island for his Teachers’ Certificate Exams. Later on the British Council awarded him a scholarship to Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts. Subsequently, he won another scholarship to attend Columbia University, New York, where he obtained an M.A. Degree in Fine and Industrial Arts.

He taught in Canada and the West Indies and travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean, North and South America, Britain, Europe and India. From 1949 to 1952, he served as Assistant Lecturer at the Government Training College. After leaving this post, he was employed as an Art Officer by the Ministry of Education and Culture during the period 1953-1956. He was responsible for overseeing Art Education work in all schools and teachers’ training colleges in Trinidad and Tobago.

MP Alladin painting of Hosay Festival

Alladin belonged to a number of professional associations including the International Society of Education through Art (INSEA), Art Teachers’ Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Art Society. For many years he served as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Art Society. Additionally, he was an executive member of the Commonwealth Association of Museums.

He held one-man and mixed exhibitions in Birmingham, New York, Sao Paulo, Montreal, and the Caribbean. His inspiration was from the simple village folk, as he sought to capture their joys, sorrows, labour and customs.

This great artist was commissioned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, in 1957, to produce a painting called “Back to Africa” as a gift from Trinidad and Tobago to Ghana. A decade later his services were requested again for a painting of a local scene as a gift to Canada on that country’s centennial in 1967. He also produced a mural at UWI’s JFK Hall.

Alladin was appointed the Director of Culture in the Ministry of Education and Culture in 1965 and made invaluable contributions in improving Indian song and dance in our folk culture. Also, as a high-ranking civil servant he also promoted local talent in parang and calypso music.

Extracted from The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) presentation on the 2008 Induction into The Hall of Pioneers. This induction pays tribute to persons who have made sterling pioneering contributions to the growth and upliftment of their communities and in turn to our country, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

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