Jackie Hinkson grew up in the town of Port of Spain, Trinidad, living with his family in a gabled wooden colonial house with the characteristic roof, portico, wooden jalousies and decorative fretwork, so representative of dwellings built at the turn of the century.
Because his father was a Travelling Officer with the colonial government, Hinkson enjoyed extensive exposure to Trinidad's rural and coastal landscape and architecture, particularly plantation architecture. During his teenage years he struck up a friendship with a fellow schoolmate. With Peter Minshall Jackie worked and discussed art extensively.
In 1961, with Minshall, Pat Bishop, Alice Greenhall and Arthur Webb, Hinkson was one of the Five Young Artists whose work premiered at the old Woodbrook Market on French Street in Port of Spain, then the headquarters of the Trinidad Art Society.
Through this exhibition another significant artistic link was formed, this time with art critic Derek Walcott, later to be Nobel Laureate for Literature. Walcott's criticisms, encouragement and friendship, which began in Hinkson’s early teenage years, continues to the present. Their work was featured in October 1998 at the State University of New York at Albany, USA.
Leaving Trinidad in 1963, along with Minshall, Hinkson embarked on a one-year scholarship at the Academie Julien inParis. A year later he proceeded on an art scholarship toCanada (BA Fine Arts) and a Dip. Ed. He admired and was influenced there by Abstract Impressionists, Pop Artists and minimal Artists. He also developed a strong interest in sculpture. Five years later, when the North American influence was beginning to have a decisive effect, Hinkson returned toTrinidad.
He was immediately and forcibly struck by the light and rhythms of his native region. He launched himself into plein-air watercolour painting, exploring the medium almost exclusively for the next two and a half decades - working, travelling and exhibiting throughout the Caribbean from Trinidad to Jamaica. During those decades he also worked in conte crayons, and produced numerous ink sketches.
It is his work during this period which is generally regarded as "Hinkson" and to which many observers draw parallels to the significance of the early watercolourist who recorded Trinidad¹' landscape in the 19th Century - Jean-Michel Cazabon.
A significant body of Hinkson's work in conte crayons was produced during 1982-1985 when he was commissioned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to produce One Hundred pieces of work showing the "disappearing architecture" of the country. Some of these works are in the collection of the National Museum and Art Gallery, Port of Spain.
From the mid-1990s Hinkson resumed working in oils and his later exhibitions included a number of large canvases. Simultaneously he worked on figurative wood sculptures in cedar, samaan, mango and a variety of tropical woods - his interest rekindled by the German sculptress Luise Kimme residing in Tobago. An exhibition of these wood sculptures was held in 1999.
Visits to Europe at that time added another dimension to the themes of his watercolours, and he produced several sketches and paintings while in Florence, London, Paris.
In recent years Hinkson has been working closely with Barbadian born artist Ian "Sundiata" Stewart. The two share a common interest in water colour, sculpture and oils.
Hinkson's interest in other artists work continues with particular interest in the work of watercolourists John Sell Cotman, William Turner and especially Winslow Homer. Homer's Bahamas watercolours have had a strong influence on Hinkson. Piero della Francesca, Goya, Chardin, Edward Hopper and Homer are some of the artists whose work he particularly admires.
Over the past 20 years Hinkson has expanded his repertoire of subjects and his range of media. In addition to the numerous (some 75) sketch pads that he has filled with sketches and visual notes on people, places and events, he has produced " in which he has depicted events from the life of Christ in a contemporary Trinidadian context. These works exhibited in 2002 2003 and have received wide national acclaim.
In 2002 the Unit Trust Corporation sponsored a retrospective of Hinkson's work covering some 40 years. It included exhibitions of drawings and sculpture, watercolours, oils and murals (including the Life of Christ series). This retrospective was the impetus for a book published in December 2003 on Hinkson's drawings, "Drawing for Days" 40 years of Drawings by Jackie Hinkson. In April 2006 a book, portfolio and DVD were published.
Hinkson continues to draw extensively and to paint plein-air watercolours and oils. He has begun a new series of figurative wood sculptures and is currently working on a 8 1/2 foot by 100 foot mural entitled "Masquerade" in which certain aspects of Trinidad society are portrayed through the metaphor of Carnival. This work reflects an increasing tendency in Hinkson's work towards social commentary.