When is a mace a piece of art? Perhaps when its original warlike function – and even its evolved symbolic purpose – seems to be submerged beneath a moment of creative interpretation.
Certainly that is the sense that this ceremonial mace gives: the decorative head and delicately carved finial moreso than the slender pole of Honduran mahogany.
The UWI’s Coat of Arms, which this mace interprets, was granted by the College of Arms in London, England. Main elements are a brown Caribbean pelican, common to all the shores of the region; a lion that underscores the link of UWI to its first Chancellor, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone; a book of knowledge, the waves of the Caribbean Sea that links UWI’s member countries, and the motto: Oriens Ex Occidente Lux (A Light Rising From The West). The mace, on display in the UWI Museum is the work of Yale University Emeritus Professor (Art History)Theodore Sizer. In the early 1960s, Sizer got to know the then University of the West Indies (UWI) Vice Chancellor, Philip Sherlock and the University Registrar, Hugh Springer.
When he heard that the UWI’s mace had begun to travel regularly between widely dispersed campuses across the Caribbean, he offered to make one for the UWI, “con amore”. He delivered it in 1965. His mace, very different from the minimally carved and polished dark mahoghany piece normally carried to indicate the authority of the Chancellor, offers a creative interpretation of the UWI coat of arms. Sizer designed or made more than one mace while at Yale including one, carried by the Procession Marshal at graduation, which features the mythical beast called a ‘yale’.
(We found files on the UWI-Theodore Sizer link in the UWI Archives, which like the UWI Museum is located in the UWI Regional HQ.)