An exhibition mounted by the Trinidad and Tobago Art Society, Carlisle Chang, Iconic Artist of Trinidad and Tobago, is an important reference to one of Trinidad and Tobago's most distinguished artists from the 20th century. Chang was best known for his public murals, but his oeuvre was extensive, with his oil and watercolour paintings, in many private and public collections.
Carlisle Chang was born in 1921 near the Croisee, the bustling crossroads in San Juan, Trinidad. His father was a successful businessman who had emigrated from China some years earlier. His family was originally from the Hakka community in China.
His father died when he was very young, leaving the family with very little. Chang grew up close to his sister Beryl, who subsidised the family income by sewing Indian dresses for the local market.
He helped her by tracing designs for her dresses, which would be embroidered or beaded onto fabrics. Beryl's talents were also exploited by the Carnival mas players, which also gave Chang an opportunity to experience the production of Carnival costumes.
Later, while attending school in Port of Spain, Chang met Boscoe Holder who was already an accomplished painter. Holder introduced him to painting in oils and also to artist Amy Leong Pang, who gave Chang lessons in art.