Karl Broodhagen

Karl Broodhagen is a well known master sculptor, painter, poet, tailor, musician, craftsman, boxer, community worker, ceramic artist and teacher in Barbados. Affectionately known as 'Broodie' to his colleagues and students, he was acclaimed for his most creative pieces of lifelike portrait heads and busts. He also delighted in full-bodied pieces and is the sculptor responsible for the Emancipation Statue (Bussa Statue) at the St. Barnabas Roundabout, the statue of Sir Grantley Adams which stands in front of Government Headquarters and the statue of Sir Garfield Sobers which graces the entrance to the Kensington Oval.


Karl was born on July 4, 1909 in Guyana and attended school there until his arrival to the shores of Barbados at the age of fourteen (14). By 1944, Karl was given the opportunity by Major Noot, to set up an Art Department at Combermere School. This department was to be the very first of its kind in a Secondary School in Barbados and proved quite effective in paving the way for Karl's cultural path ahead.


In 1952 he was selected for a British Council Scholarship that saw him entering Goldsmith College in London. This two year scholarship afforded him the opportunity to gain his diploma in Fine Arts. Despite the origin of his navel-string, Karl devoted his life work to Barbados and its people and on his return, was now able to further expose Barbados to various expressions of art.


By the mid 70s, Karl was in a position where he was seen as a master of his trade. His creativity and passion for his work spread throughout Barbados and the Caribbean offering further exposure to this man of great humility and privacy.


A true fullness of his work (for want of a better descriotion) was unveiled in 1981 when the Government of Barbados, under the leadership of Tom Adams, decided to have a statue erected that would symbolise a Slave in Revolt. The end result was what we now refer to as the Bussa Statue which is located at the St. Barnabas Roundabout. No one really knows what Bussa looks like but thanks to Karl, we now have a permanent image etched into our minds.


In 1998, Barbados witnessed the unveiling of yet another one of his full-bodied statues, the imposing statue of Sir Grantley Adams. This statue which was sculpted in honour and memory of Sir Grantley Adams, stands at the entrance to Government Headquarters on Bay Street on the outskirts of the capital city of Bridgetown.


Recognition flew in at a rate and so by 1999, he was the recipient of the first Pride of Barbados Award. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of the West Indies and an Award of Excellence in Creative and Visual Arts.


In 2002, as part of the National Heroes Day Celebrations in Barbados, the Sir Garfield Sobers Statue was unveiled. It was dedicated to our very own cricketing legend Sir Garfield Auburn Sobers for his accomplishments as the world's greatest all-rounder cricketer and for his contributions to the world of cricket. This statue currently stands in front of Kensington Oval.


The arts in Barbados have been more than privileged to be exposed to the likes of Karl Broodhagen. A man who has remained silently focused on his cultural goals and humble throughout his many achievements. May we always embrace the magnitude of the contribution he has made to Barbados and its people and may we forever stand in awe at the strenght-of-character of such a humble human-being.


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