Written by Karen Rollins

St Lucian heroes: Sir Dunstan St Omer

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Sir Dunstan St Omer was born on October 24th, 1927 in Castries, Saint Lucia.

He was a talented artist from a young age and is celebrated as a National Cultural Hero for his overwhelming contribution to the country’s artistic development.

Sir Dunstan is renowned for painting murals which are featured in several of the country’s Catholic churches. Two of the best known include the Holy Family Mural at the Church of the Holy Family in Jacmel, Roseau and the figure of a black Christ seen at the Fond St. Jacques Church near Soufriere.

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In 1979, when St Lucia became an independent nation, Sir Dunstan entered a competition to design the island’s new flag. His depiction, which drew on inspiration from the Caribbean Sea and the Pitons and featured blue, black, yellow and white, was chosen to represent the island’s patriotism and hope for the future.

Sir Dunstan received several awards and honours throughout his life, including a Papal Medal from the Catholic Church, and the Saint Lucia Cross from the government when the island marked 25 years of independence.

In 2010 he was awarded a knighthood by the Queen for his contribution to the arts in his native country, the Caribbean, and the world.

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Sir Dunstan worked for over 30 years within the Ministry of Education as an art specialist and is credited with initiating a programme which incorporated painting into the island’s curriculum to encourage a new generation of St Lucian artists.

His work has also inspired an art movement and he is known as the father of the Prismism style of painting.

Sir Dunstan died in St Lucia on May 5th, 2015. He and his wife have nine children and two of their sons, Luigi and Julio, are following in their father’s footsteps as local artists.

Sources: All about St Lucia / St Lucia Oral History / St Lucia Folk Research Centre

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