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Rikki Tikki’s ‘Uncle Ian’ dies

Saturday, August 18 2007

VETERAN local television personality, artist and teacher Ian Ali has died. The 70-year-old Ali who was known to many people as “Uncle Ian” on the now defunct Rikki Tikki show which was aired locally during the 1980s, died of heart failure yesterday at Westshore Medical Centre in, Cocorite.

Ali’s passing comes on the heels of cultural icon Pat Mathura’s death last week. In a statement yesterday, Ali’s family said, he had been “a vital part of the canvas of Trinidad and Tobago’s art and culture” for the last 40 years.

Ali was best known for his work on TTT’s Rikki Tikki show for his unique form of story-telling through sketches on large blackboards. Rikki Tikki was one of the very first local children’s televison shows.

Ali’s love for TT was evident in his 1970’s television series Looking Around. This show was responsible for highlighting some of this country’s unique animal species such as the Scarlet Ibis and the leatherback turtle. The show also highlighted many of the country’s historical sights.

Ali was also one of the original judges for the Prime Minister’s Best Village Competition and continued to judge for several years. In 1962, he won a government scholarship to study art in the United Kingdom at the Bath Academy of Art, Sir John Cass School of Art and Hammersmith College of Art and Building.

His disciplines included painting, sculpture, design, fabric work, jewelry, pottery, commercial art and illustrating. Ali lectured at the Government Training College for teachers, UWI summer schools and the Ministry of Culture. He was a teacher at the Point Fortin Secondary and St Augustine Senior Comprehensive School. Ali’s work was also evident in the development of Carnival designs over the years.

He leaves to mourn his wife Carolyn and daughters Jo-Ann, Tammy, Patti, Judi-Anne, grandson Liam and other relatives and friends. Ali’s funeral will take place at the St Joseph’s Presbyterian Church on Tuesday at 3 pm.

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