The death of Jackson Burnside, renowned architect and artist, brought a dark cloud over The Bahamas this week.
He was a cultural icon who continued, up until his sudden illness a few weeks ago, to encourage, motivate and influence the country to develop culturally. His aim was to transform The Bahamas into a desirable destination, not only for its stunning beaches and sun, but for art, culture and heritage.
“His enthusiasm for life itself and for the cultural diversity and richness of The Bahamas was infectious,” Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said. “His spirit and great enthusiasm will live on in our hearts. Moreover, his legacy in many fields of endeavour from his professional success in architecture to his artistic craft to Junkanoo will endure.”
Mr Ingraham added: “Over the many days, and weeks and months and years ahead, a grateful nation will mourn the passage of a native son who made us proud of him, and also made us proud to be Bahamians.”
Burnside’s greatest passion was architecture and in the later years of his life he focused on the restoration and preservation of old Bahamian houses and buildings. He was an avid supporter of the Jacaranda House and would bring many of his students here to study the beautiful colonial architecture.
For many years Burnside studied and practiced architecture abroad. He was a sought after lecturer and encouraged his students to always study the architectural heritage of a building and the importance of understanding climatic conditions, natural light and structure in developing design that neither overwhelmed its surroundings.
Burnside achieved a great deal in his life. He was the first Bahamian Senior Architect for the Bahamas Ministry of Works and for his artistic talents and as a cultural advocate received numerous awards and honours for his outstanding work. He was awarded The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizens Award for the Creative and Performing Arts, and The 2008 Bahamas Home and Builders Lifetime Achievement Award.
We all hope that his work and achievements will always be remembered and that it will be a reminder to us all of how important it is to preserve our traditions and develop our culture and inspire the arts of The Bahamas.