Minton left for Jamaica on the SS Bayano of the Fyffes Line on September 9 1950 with Ricky Stride. It was a fortnight on the boat directly to Kingston and there were seventy other passengers. Not one to opt out, Minton starred at the boat’s fancy-dress ball when he appeared as the Mysterious Guest in female dress. He and Ricky made friends with Captain Peter Blagrove and his wife Alice, wealthy, white Jamaican landowners, who invited them to stay at their home. The invitation was accepted, though on docking at Kingston, the two friends spent their first month at Dudley Lodge, Half Way Tree, just outside Kingston. ‘Well it’s all here’ Minton wrote to Bobby Hunt, ‘all they said and more, the coral sands, the swaying palms, moonlight and glamour and all that stuff. Luxury hotels at £10.0.0 a day and VD any minute. Some of it is wonderful, a lot of it is awful. Poverty, the colour-bar, the English (Oh God, the English), the rich, and a whole lot of Coloured Bores as well … Everyone sits on verandahs endlessly and drinks.’ He wrote, sitting beside a swimming-pool, with a rum and ginger to hand, while Ricky lay in bed with a hangover. From Kingston they crossed the island to stay with the Blagroves whose mainly spice plantations Minton drew whilst Ricky exercised polo ponies. The Captain and his wife proved so hospitable that Ricky stayed on for a few days after Minton left to stay with Paul (‘Odo’) Cross and Angus Wilson at their home Rio Chico at Ocho Rios. When he and Ricky returned in December, Minton had a considerable mass of drawings and watercolours. During the next few months he worked on this material in preparation for a show at the Lefevre Gallery in September 1951 and for other exhibitions. Jamaican material also fed the large and complex decoration which, with the help from others he painted for the Festival of Britain’s Dome of Discovery in 1951. He had been given the topic ‘Exploration’ and Keith Vaughan the theme of ‘Discovery’.
Bonhams, Knightsbridge, Nov 22 2016 bt. John Constable
John Minton - A Centenary, Pallant house, Chichester, July 1 - October 1 2017, The Catalogue, fig 69., illustrated page 65.