In 2002 Anderson spent a formative sojourn in Trinidad as part of an artist’s residency programme at Caribbean Contemporary Arts. Everyday life on the island began to inform the subjects of many of the artist’s paintings produced on his return to the UK the following year; the opulent landscape of Western Main firmly belongs to this vivid group of works. Affirming that although: “memory is the trigger. I will start from an idea about a place” (Hurvin Anderson quoted in: Hossein Amirsadeghi, Ed., Sanctuary: Britain’s Artists and their Studios, London 2012, p. 366). Anderson finds further inspiration from photographic sources: “I tried to work in the studio but it was too much, being away and stuck in a studio. So I opted for taking photographs, for seeing what the place was about” (Ibid., p 368). Indeed, Anderson's contemporary at the Royal College of Art, Peter Doig, employs a similar artistic method, combining memory and photography. In both their painterly technique and formal compositional structure, the oeuvres of these two painters are intimately entwined.
The detached viewpoint of Western Main imbues the work with an overwhelming sensation of dislocation and displacement, offering the viewer an outsider’s perspective. This liberating feeling of separation, both societal and cultural, was cultivated during his stay in Trinidad and is at the very heart of Anderson’s aesthetic. As the artist recalls, “What had the greatest impact on me was how I existed there. I was British one moment, Jamaican the next. If they didn’t know who I was, I could have been Trinidadian. So I existed in all these different places… It was intriguing to not exist anywhere” (Ibid.). Western Main evocatively assumes this position of a detached observer, created through the perusal of layers of different memories and associations. The outcome is a resolutely poignant painting that belies the apparently humble nature of the quotidian scene that is here so lyrically depicted.
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