Anglophone West Indian nationalism which began to be politically vocal with the labour riots of the 1930’s, was matched by similar activities in the arts. The growing movement away from a European philosophy was formalised with the emergence in 1929 of a group called The Society of Trinidad Independents. The Independents gathered in private homes, painted and discussed the arts and developed their ideas.
Amy Leong Pang (b.1908 d.1989) was one of the founding members and under her guidance, the artists grouped themselves into an informal alliance which can be said to have become the first School of Trinidadian painting. Included in this group was Hugh Stollmeyer (b.1813 d.1981), to whom Leong Pang was particularly close.
The Independents also published their own paper, The Beacon, intended for the enlightenment of the conservative attitudes born of strong religious and colonial heritage. Their ideas were considered outrageous and immoral – their exhibitions of nudes were considered to be highly improper – and the group survived only until 1938. But the influences of this small but courageous group were far reaching. The individual nature of Trinidad and Tobago’s contemporary art is ascribed to these roots.