Intelligent Art

Photographer/historian Sherlin Williams combines his passions to create Photocraphs.
By Kathy Borsuk ~ Original Artwork By Sherlin Williams

“When I started creating Photocraphs, I did not conceive that it was art, but I am now told that it is art.”
That’s what Sherlin Williams says about the unique art form displayed on this issue’s cover, above and on the following pages, which he calls “Photocraphs.” Judge for yourself.

Sherlin Williams is the TCI’s first professional photographer, and over the course of 30+ years, he has compiled tens of thousands of photos — both digital and prints — of the country, including those of many buildings, especially in Grand Turk, that no longer exist. As his craft became digitalized, Sherlin went abroad and took courses to become fluid in Photoshop, InDesign and other image and layout-focused programs. As he started experimenting with the tremendous creative possibilities released, he found he could use his life’s massive collection of photos in a new and different way.

Creating Photocraphs

Computer artist Sherlin Williams at work.

Each “Photocraph” encompasses anywhere from dozens to hundreds to thousands of individual photos, carefully “cut,” “pasted,” modified and placed into a computer file to form an original work of art. One of his favorite pieces, entitled “The Mule Breeder,” included nearly 3,500 individual items and took four months to complete.
Sherlin says he originally started making Photocraphs to create “fun,” collage-like postcards and posters to sell to tourists at the Grand Turk Cruise Centre. He has also printed a “Trekkers Trail” map of Grand Turk that utilizes a similar technique and over 800 images. However, some of the creations became more detailed and as he interwove his lifetime passion for history into the projects, more meaningful “intelligent” artwork began to develop. For instance, “The Mule Breeder” highlights the salt industry era that flourished in Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos for nearly 300 years, until its demise caused many Islanders to move elsewhere in search of employment until better economic times. With the advent of tourism, their dreams were realized and the return exodus began. This theme of abandonment and rejuvenation is richly woven throughout this and others of his 24-piece portfolio and each tells a unique story.

A unique photocraph of Grand Turk

Born in the settlement of Wheeland, Providenciales, Sherlin grew up in between Grand Turk, Five Cays and the Bahamas. As a teen, he recalls spending all his money on cameras and darkroom equipment, and eventually trained at the New York Institute of Photography. He soon learned, however, that he did NOT enjoy taking photos as a living, and went back to school to become a photo technologist, specializing in the repair of Hasselblads, Canons, Nikons and the like. Although he had job offers in Hong Kong and Australia, Sherlin returned to the Bahamas to run a camera sales and repair shop for five years, and then came “home” to Grand Turk in 1981 to do the same. With the help of Vic Georgeff he opened a branch in Provo that was quite successful until the bottom dropped out of the economy in 1986. He returned to Nassau for nearly a decade, but came back to Grand Turk to stay in 1996. Obviously, the camera-repair trade became nearly non-existent with the advent of inexpensive digital cameras, and Sherlin has turned his talents elsewhere.

Photocraph entitled Running Jacks

Besides using his lens to document the living history that is rapidly disintegrating in the Salt Islands, Sherlin seeps himself in history as a long-time volunteer at the National Museum, and serves as president of the local historical society. At the museum, he often utilizes his set of skills in very specific ways, including repairing the turning mechanism from the Grand Turk lighthouse’s Fresnel lens, rescuing a millhead to recreate a working windmill and rejuvenating an Archimedes screw. Ironically, although this nostalgic says he at first resented the replacement of emulsion-based photos with digital, after “getting into it,” he found he loved digital photography, especially since the composition, exposures and basic techniques remain the same. In 2004, Sherlin combined his writing, photography and computer layout talents to produce the first “Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Handbook,” a compendium of fascinating TCI facts.
These days, Sherlin can usually be found in his small home office on James Street, just behind the Triangle Gas Station. Here, amidst cartons of “Trekkers Trail” maps, painted backdrops he uses for the local photo trade, and piles of history books and documents, Sherlin sits behind a state-of-the-art Mac computer with an extra-wide cinema display screen. The all-important processor is kept cool with a small fan, but the artist has to deal with the heat and humidity. Here, for most of the day and long into the night (interrupted when someone needs a passport photo or a friend comes by with a papaya to sell), Sherlin peers into the screen that is his canvas, plies the computer mouse as his brush and with thousands of stored image files as his “paint,” sets to work cutting, pasting, modifying and arranging . . . to create art like no other. Sherlin says that the discipline of working with intricate camera mechanisms has proved vital in creating Photocraphs. “I’m trained to process and organize large amounts of information and I find myself applying this skill to working with Photocraphs.”
Titus de Boer is founder of Bamboo Gallery, the TCI’s first professional art gallery, which he ran from 1990 to 2004. Of Sherlin’s Photocraphs, Titus says “They’re very unusual. I liked the fact that here was something new and quite different, especially for the local art scene. I noticed some of them expressed a strong sense of community, especially the typical Grand Turk scenes, revealing a longing for days gone by. They are very creative and original and should certainly be sold as ‘works of art,’ and not souvenirs. They prove that the West Indies have an amazing cross section of styles to offer.”
These comments mirror Sherlin’s future plans, which include printing Photocraph originals on an offset press and selling them via art dealers and in galleries throughout the Caribbean, Florida and elsewhere.
In the meantime, if you wish to be among the first to purchase an original Photocraph, contact Sherlin Williams at 649 343 8316 or email sherlinwilliams@gmail.com.


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Feb 7, 2012 9:20

Hi Mr. Williams,
I was looking through Times of the Islands and I love the photo u took of Running Jacks. I am staying at the Royal West indies. Where can I purchase this photo and can u give me an idea of sizes and pricing?

Thank you for your time.

Roxanne Tafuri

Sherlin Williams
Aug 8, 2012 22:31

Hi, Roxanna. I’m happy to say that some of my Photocraphs are ready. Including Proofjack, the one you expressed interest in. Photocraph is art made with photos. Proofjack Is 20 x 28.5 inches on canvis including a 3 inche white boarder on all sides. It cost $750. Fedexing will cost around $62 to most US cities. Thank you for your your interest$ Sherlin

Leave a Reply


What's Inside The Latest Edition?

On the Cover

Photographer Marta Morton was enjoying another spectacular sunset when she spotted this lovely scene—a picture-perfect clump of Old Man Cacti and the pastel colours of what she later learned were crepuscular rays (see page 18). For more of Marta’s images, turn the pages of this issue and visit www.harbourclubvillas.com.

Our Sponsors

  • Fortis
  • Beaches
  • Palms/Shore
  • Sothebys
  • South Bank
  • Turks & Caicos Property
  • Turks & Caicos Banking Co.
  • Is Bargains
  • Grace Bay Realty
  • Century 21
AvisJohn Redmond
Dempsey and Companyjsjohnson
Caicos Express AirTCI Ferry
Walkin Marine Turks Head Brewery
OrkinIsland Escapes TCI
Hugh ONeillTwa Marcela Wolf
Cays ConstructionKR Logistics
Pyrate RadioSWA
Kevin´s Quality CleaningGreen Revolution
 Blue Loos


Lost your password?