Getting to Know

Painting TCI History to Life

Local artist Richard McGhie

By Kathy Borsuk ~ Illustrations By Richard McGhie

Regular readers of Times of the Islands may recall the intriguing paintings of a 1798 pirate battle off the coast of West Caicos (Fall 2021) and the treasure-laden Spanish galleon Concepción before it sank in stormy seas (Spring 2022). Both images were realistic, detailed, accurate portraits of important moments in Turks & Caicos history created by resident artist Richard McGhie.

I was introduced to Rich by Ben Stubenberg, who regularly contributes articles on subjects far and wide —including TCI history. Rich good-heartedly took on the task of painting the pictures specifically for Ben’s well- researched history articles. 

Artist Richard McGhie

When I finally met Rich in person about a year ago, I expected a “salty dog” — a grizzled, elderly character who’d spent years in the sun and was settling down in TCI to retire and paint. Instead, Rich is a young, casual, happy-go-lucky bloke from the UK, who landed in the Islands chasing a dream of living in the Caribbean. He and his wife Ainara moved to Providenciales in 2014. Rich works at the Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club as a greenkeeper and Ainara is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at Graceway Sports Centre. In April 2021, they were enjoying the recent birth of their first child Logan.

Rich has a smile as bright as the island sun and the kind of optimistic patience that is key to keeping an even keel when living and working in the Caribbean. Rich is a self-taught artist, who only began avidly drawing and painting since his move to TCI. He says, “I was immediately captivated by my surroundings and I wanted to capture the beauty and rich history of the Islands in my art.” 

He was especially surprised to discover there is little art depicting TCI’s rich history. Besides the pirate battle and galleon paintings showcased in Times of the Islands, Rich is working on other paintings of TCI’s past. These include the shipwreck of the Trouvadore and the slaves wading onto shore; Lucayan Indians at the caves on Middle Caicos; and Ann Bonny and Mary Read anchored in a pirate ship off Pirate’s Cove. He says, “My goal is to bring all the big events and cultures to life so people can visually relate them to TCI. Much of the art I’ve seen when referencing the country actually comes from The Bahamas or other Caribbean islands. I’m a huge fan of historical art, so I was pretty happy to find that there’s a significant gap to fill here.” Other subjects he favors, as seen here, relate to TCI’s beautiful seas and the creatures who frequent them (including humans).

Rich McGhie’s art depicts the Turks & Caicos history.

Rich enjoys painting the Turks & Caicos natural wonders.

Rich works primarily in acrylics on canvas and also pen and ink illustrations. His studio is his apartment at the golf course. And yes, now that Logan is up and running it is sometimes a bit chaotic. But Rich is the type to roll with the punches, including the fact that since his brother Chris is a professional artist for the Beano and Dandy, he has big footsteps to follow. Interestingly, the renowned figure and seascape painter John McGhie (1867–1952) is from Glasgow, Scotland, where both of Rich’s parents were born, and they share the similar rare spelling of their surname. Rich’s historical paintings bear similar qualities to John’s realistic seascapes. Perhaps he is a descendant!

We hope to feature more of Rich’s paintings along with tidbits of TCI history in future issues of Times of the Islands. In April 2022, Rich, along with other local artists, participated in the Exclusive Evening of Art Show at The Shore Club, with proceeds benefiting the Edward Gartland Youth Centre in Providenciales. He also hopes to eventually donate pieces to the Turks & Caicos National Museum. 

For now, you can see more of his work on Instagram at richmcghie_art or contact him directly at richardmcghie@outlook.com.

Rich painted this image of a Junkanoo participant.



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