Born: October 24th, 1927
Place of Birth: , Castries
Sir Dunstan St Omer is St Lucia’s premier artist and muralist. He designed St Lucia’s National Flag and his murals grace the altars of many St Lucian churches, including the notable Holy Family Mural at Church of the Holy Family at Jacmel, Roseau.
Born in Castries to Gerald and Louisa St Omer, Dunstan St Omer attended the St Aloysius R.C. Boys School and St. Mary’s College. It was at St. Mary’s that he befriended Derek Walcott and Leo ‘Spa’ St Helene who were to have a lasting influence on his life. The trio were introduced to National Cultural Hero Harold Simmons who was to have a profound impact on the boys and their art. It was with Harry Simmons that the group began to value the St Lucian landscape as a worthy subject for artistic reflection.
In 1946 St. Omer left St Lucia for Curacao to work with Dutch Oil; there he was influenced by Greek painter Pandelis. When he returned to St Lucia in 1949 it was to various teaching jobs, including a stint at his alma mater. He received a scholarship to go to Puerto Rico where he studied art for a year and returned home to work with mentor Harry Simmons as sub-editor at the Voice newspaper, eventually replacing him from 1959-1962. Sir Dunstan worked with the Ministry of Education as an art specialist and remained there until he retired in 2000.
Sir Dunstan’s first mural was commissioned by Fr. Joseph Vrignaud, for the altar of Our Lady’s Chapel at La Clery. He would go on to paint several more through out the island, drawing acclaim and criticism for his depictions of black divinity. Sir Dunstan once said, ‘If my faith depends on Christ being white, I think I will lose my faith because the relationship that exists in the world between the white race and the black race is one of prejudice and inferiority for the blacks…’ Sir Dunstan’s work has inspired an art movement and he is father of the prismism style of painting.
He was awarded a Papal Medal by the Catholic Church and the St Lucia Cross by the St Lucia government on the occasion of the island’s 25th Anniversary. In 2007 the Folk Research Centre declared him a National Cultural Hero. Accolade was to follow accolade as in 2009 he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the West Indies, and in 2010 was the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) was conferred on him in the New Years Honours of H.M Queen Elizabeth II
Sir Dunstan is married to Cynthia St. Croix and together they have nine children.