MBCC Summer Youth Workshop 2019

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National Gallery West would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making this year’s Summer Youth Workshop a success! Throughout the 2 week period, Monique Gilpin from NGW along with Kerry-Ann Watson from NMW crafted an edutainment workshop which merged art and history. We thank them for their continued support in helping to inspire future generations to create more.

We would also like to thank our 2 Guest Teachers – Isis Harris who shared her expertise in jewellery making as well as Tyane Robinson who not only delivered fantastic Jamaican folklore but also encouraged the students to craft their own tales.

Thank you to Chief Michael Grizzle from the Flagstaff Heritage Center who allowed us to experience the history of Flagstaff and the Maroon population there.

Lastly, thank you to the St. James Municipal Council, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the hardworking staff here at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.

See You Next Year!

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‘Affirmation’ – Artist Talk

Artist Talk

National Gallery West will be hosting its third Artist Talk to accompany its current exhibition, ‘Affirmation‘ on Saturday, July 6, 2019, starting at 2 pm. Moderated by the exhibition’s assistant curator Monique Gilpin; this conversation will include featured artist, Kimani Beckford, alongside guest panellist, Dr Shani Roper, Director at Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey. The discussion will open dialogue about ‘Affirmation‘ and how that translates through Kimani’s works as well as speak on how the ideology of Marcus Garvey with respect to black representation and black pride, black agency and how it has manifested itself in the works of Kimani Beckford.

 

The Artist Talk will be held inside National Gallery West located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre and all are invited to attend. We look forward to seeing you there.

Affirmation

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National Gallery West and the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in association with the The Dean Collection 20 St(art)up presents the Affirmation exhibition, featuring a selection of ten (10) works by Kimani Beckford opening on May 19, 2019.

Launched in May 2018, The Dean Collection 20 St(art)ups was established to support visual artists by providing funds to aid in their career development through the staging of their own exhibitions as well as aiding their participation in art fairs or other group shows. Open to artists worldwide Swizz Beatz worked with a curatorial team of over a dozen people to select 20 artists, each of whom would receive a grant of $5000. In June 2018 the winners were announced and Jamaican artist Kimani Beckford was one of the 20 selected. Beckford went on to stage his first solo exhibition entitled Affirmation at the Jamaica Conference Centre in partnering with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission to showcase 30 paintings. This exhibit at National Gallery West is a selection of ten of those paintings and serves to further the Dean Collection 20 St(art)ups, the drive which exposed Beckford’s work to a larger audience.

Beckford’s paintings are his attempt to subtly pay homage to Black icons, as a reminder of their presence and recognition in contributing to what he calls “Affirmation – the preservation of our presence through imagery”. Youth and afrocentricity are represented in an auspicious way through his medium of choice. Magnifying the confidence and ambition of his subject matter contrary to the quintessential poor portrayal of black imagery.

The May 19 opening reception for the Affirmation exhibition at National Gallery West, commences at 2pm with guest speaker, artist and lecturer at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Phillip Thomas.  The reception is free and open to the public and all are cordially invited to attend. The exhibition will continue until July 2019. 

National Gallery West is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. Opening hours are: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission fees apply on regular days.

Visual Arts Workshop – How to Best Prepare for an Art Exhibition

National Gallery West is pleased to present a one day Visual Arts Workshop on ‘How To Best Prepare for an Art Exhibition’.

Preparing for any exhibition is not an easy task. It requires ensuring that particular steps are covered before submitting your art portfolio.

This workshop promises to give insight on key factors jurors look out for when judging submissions for an exhibition, gallery criteria and presentation of works.

All are welcomed to join us on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre from 10 am – 2pm.

For more details, Call (876) 550-4817 or send us an email: montegobaycc@gmail.com

Due West

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National Gallery West is pleased to present its newest exhibition: Due West.

Continuing our commitment to serving the needs of Western Jamaica, Due West is the first submission based exhibition staged at this location. It is part of an initiative aimed at discovering and showcasing the work of artists who live in or are from Western Jamaica.

An open call was put out to both professional and amateur artists on October 20, 2018 and after the adjudication, 14 artists represented by 22 works were selected. It is our intention that this exhibition will become an annual fixture in our exhibition calendar providing a platform for the work of these artists to exhibit within the Jamaican contemporary art scene.

There’s also a People’s Choice Award. Cash prizes of $50,000.00 will be given to the “Best of Show” winner whose artwork will be featured on our social media handles along with an article about them and their work.  We encourage you to visit NGW and vote!

The opening reception was held on Sunday, January 20, 2019, at 4 pm.

A Conversation with Nile Saulter & Storm Saulter

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National Gallery West will be hosting, “A Conversation with Nile Saulter & Storm Saulter” – an artist talk that will explore both Nile and Storm’s work in the current exhibition, ‘I Shall Return Again’ as well as a discussion about their experiences as filmmakers.
 
We look forward to seeing you!
Location: National Gallery West at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre
Date: January 12, 2019
Time:  free admission from 2 pm – 3 pm

I SHALL RETURN AGAIN – ARTIST TALK

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National Gallery West hosted its inaugural Artist Talk to accompany its current exhibition, ‘I Shall Return Again’ on Friday, December 7, 2018. Moderated by the exhibition’s curator O’Neil Lawrence, this conversation included featured artists, Monique Gilpin, Leasho Johnson, and Cosmo Whyte, alongside guest panelist, Carla Moore lecturer in Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies’ western campus. The discussion explored the ways in which the themes of postcolonial identities, gender, sexuality and Dancehall culture are explored in their work and how these themes relate to Western Jamaican realities.
 
The Artist Talk was held inside National Gallery West located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.

Call For Artist Submissions

National Gallery West presents its first submission based exhibition which is part of an initiative that aims to promote the work of artists from Western Jamaica. This exhibition will focus on discovering and showcasing the work both amateur and professional artists and provide a platform for their work to be exhibited within the contemporary art scene.

The Call for Artist Submissions is open to artists working in one or more of the following media: drawing, printing, installation, painting, performance, photography, digital art, sculpture, video, mixed media, decorative art (textiles and material, glass, wood, metal, ceramics, mosaic, paper or other techniques). All submissions for consideration may be expressed in any of the following aspects: representational, expressionism, surrealism, or abstraction.

Exhibition Opening: December 9, 2018
Address: Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square
Contact us at (876)550-4817

Eligibility:
– 18 years of age or older
– Open to emerging and professional artists

Awards:
– Jurors Choice
– People’s Choice Awards – Cash prizes of $50,000.00 will be given to the “Best of Show” winner whose artwork will be featured on our social media handles along with an article about them and their work.

Submissions Open: October 20, 2018
Deadline: November 14, 2018
Juried Selection: November 22, 2018
Artist Notification: November 25, 2018

APPLY ONLINE: https://goo.gl/forms/8Yhbs4Xx8t7ShDmv1

“I Shall Return Again” opens September 9

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National Gallery West, the Montego Bay branch of the National Gallery of Jamaica, is pleased to present its latest exhibition: I Shall Return Again. This exhibition explores the work of five young Jamaican artists who have been making an impact on the local and international art scene, who all hail from Western Jamaica. It will open on Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 4 pm, with opening remarks by the exhibition’s curator O’Neil Lawrence.

Inspired by the Claude McKay poem, I Shall Return, which eloquently embodies the creative impulse being influenced by a separation from home and the almost overwhelming longing to return. This exhibition looks at the ways in which these artists work has been influenced by their experiences of “home” and also their time spent living, working and creating away from the distinctive culture of the tourist-centric North and North-West Coast of Jamaica.

Poignant and at times provocative, the dominant themes in this exhibition are the disenchantment of millennial Jamaicans, postcolonial identities viewed through the lens of tourism, gender, sexuality and violence as well as the tensions between the sacred and the subculture of Dancehall. In many ways the creative output of this generation of Western Jamaican artist contemporises the artistic deconstruction of the often celebrated Jamaican stereotypes and reveal more nuanced and multifaceted perspectives on the Jamaican experience.

I Shall Return Again features many new and recent paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and film by the following artists: Monique Gilpin, Leasho Johnson, Nile Saulter, Storm Saulter and Cosmo Whyte.

The September 9 opening reception for I Shall Return Again at National Gallery West is free and open to the public and all are cordially invited to attend. The exhibition will continue until November 2018. National Gallery West is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. Opening hours are: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission fees apply on regular days.

 

The Art of Jamaican Sculpture – Curator’s Essay

On September 4, 1975, an exhibition entitled Ten Jamaican Sculptors opened at the Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery in London. Guest curated by David Boxer – who later became the Director/Curator of the newly opened National Gallery of Jamaica – the exhibition was meant to showcase Jamaican sculptural traditions using the works inspired by, or otherwise contemporaneous with the Nationalist movements of the 1920s. The exhibition included seventy-five works, thirty of which were by Edna Manley, whose work was arguably used as a touchstone for the other nine artists exhibited.

Though also conceptualized using the social and political milieu of the 1920s as its initial point of departure, this significantly more modest but ambitiously titled exhibition, The Art of Jamaican Sculpture also looks at the artistic developments in the pre and post-Independence period in Jamaica. The influence of that groundbreaking 1975 exhibition can of course be seen in this more contemporary incarnation. Nine of the original ten artists are represented here at National Gallery West; with at least one work that had been in that exhibition. This of course speaks to the significance of the works exhibited in the Ten Jamaican Sculpture exhibition, as several of them were subsequently acquired by the National Gallery after 1975.

Sculptural traditions in Jamaica date back as far as the Taino period; but the modern expressions of these traditions coincide with the emergence of the nationalist movements – particularly during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Black Nationalist rhetoric of Marcus Garvey, with its promotion of social and political self-actualization, is captured in the following quote from his newspaper the Blackman

 

At last the Negro has become aroused to the consciousness of his racial weakness through disunion, and is making the effort to so adjust himself as to leave no loop-hole through which the enemy may continue in the future to destroy him as they have done in the past. [i]

 

This ideology was in line with the intellectual debates about the “new negro” during the Harlem Renaissance and resonated particularly with the creolized Jamaican middle class during the 1930s and 1940s.[ii] Edna Manley’s sculpture Negro Aroused (1935) – the 1982 bronze is on display here – was arguably influenced by this. “Indeed it might be thought that Negro Aroused was both a response to [..] Garvey’s programme of black upliftment, embodied in his Universal Negro Improvement (founded in 1914) and a harbinger of the riots of 1938.” [iii] The work eventually became a symbol of the burgeoning Trade Union movement and “gave this fledgling cultural nationalist movement an icon and suggested new forms of cultural expression.”[iv]

Despite the emphasis on black intellectual engagement, Jamaica’s nationalist artistic imagery focused primarily on the physicality of the strong black worker; perhaps informed by the romanticized but still anthropological view of manual labourers which was mobilized during the 19th Century. Marriott’s exquisitely carved Banana Man/Banana Cutter (1955) represents the epitome of conventional masculinity and can be firmly placed in the category of genre sculpture, forming part of the pre-independence ideology within the circles around Edna Manley. Though created some twenty years later, Boxer in his introductory essay to Ten Jamaican Sculptors described Kay Sullivan’s Star Boy, (1972) as having “a naturalism based on the perusal of Jamaican types and attitudes”[v] and though stylistically different, the same might be said of Roy Lawrence’s Market Scene also completed in 1972. Both artists are not however, simply inheritors of pre-independence nationalist iconography; Lawrence’s work remains celebratory with regard to the reality of the working class Jamaican and his stylization captures the rhythm and movement of the marketplace. In contrast Sullivan’s emaciated, pleading Star Boy is evocative of the harsh reality of many black Jamaican youth in the 1970s.

This more sober viewpoint is also seen in Christopher Gonzales’ Man Arisen, (1966). Utilizing a comparably heroic visual language to that of Negro Aroused with its upturned head and strained musculature, Gonzales’ sculpture contrasts with Manley’s work, evoking a feeling of disempowerment with its seemingly bound arms and protruding ribcage.

There were of course alternative narratives that co-existed with Jamaican cultural nationalism in the pre-independence era; this is evidenced in the work of Ronald Moody and the Millers. Moody’s Tacet, 1938 was not a work directly connected with the almost pervasive cultural nationalism of the time; rather his “work reflected his interest in ancient and world ideas of metaphysics (the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space)”.[vi] David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr both explored two branches of their own identities with the younger Miller focused on his African heritage using photographic representations of people who, in his estimation, exhibited features that were distinctly African – realized in his sculpture Head (1958) while his father’s imaginative sculpture Talisman (c. 1938) evokes East Indian spiritual beliefs through in its posture, form and multiple faces.

 

Of course, with the prevalence of spiritual beliefs grounded in Christianity, quite a few Jamaican sculptors have given this expression in their work. The Intuitive artists Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds with Adam and Eve (1967) and John ‘Doc’ Willamson with Sacrifice of Isaac (1980) almost faithfully depict aspects of the bible stories their works were inspired by, but like Namba Roy with his Accompong Madonna (c 1958), they have reimagined the biblical figures in more afro-centric guises. Osmond Watson’s Revival Kingdom (1969) on the other hand, could be seen as more of a documentation of observed spiritual practice; evoking and possibly critiquing the almost bacchanalian rites in Kapo’s own Revivalist worship ceremonies.

The monumental sculptural installation Goddess of Change (1993) by Laura Facey, belies the intimacy of its subject matter. The thin surreal figure emerges from the burnt background and cools below in an almost phoenix-like rebirth; it is in many ways a cathartic sculpture both in its iconography and its execution, documenting as well as enabling the healing process after the artists own battle to overcome anorexia nervosa.[vii] The theme of healing is continued in her more abstracted work Radiant Comb (2011) – a distinctly organic form which evokes an oversized comb meant to smooth out, untangle and transform the troubles of the viewers with its meditative presence. Similarly, the more abstracted works in this exhibition also tend to be more meditative. The elegant sweeping forms of Ted Williams’ Mahogany Form – Bass Solo (c2006) are not only a celebration of the material used, but with its rhythmic shapes and negative spaces is evocative of the movement of sound through a musical instrument, transmitting in some way a sense of harmony to those who view it.

An exhibition of this scale could never hope to be a survey of Jamaican sculptural art and there are many other artists and themes that could have been explored. We have instead selected works that will tease out particular themes and trends that demonstrate one part of the history and evolution of the art form in our island. It is our hope that this exhibition will not only contribute to, but also stimulate the dialogues surrounding sculpture in the Jamaican artistic narrative.

The works in this The Art of Jamaican Sculpture are primarily from the holdings of the National Gallery of Jamaica and are supplemented with generous loans from collectors in both Kingston and Montego Bay. The exhibition features critically acclaimed work by the following artists, Lawrence Edwards, Laura Facey, Christopher Gonzales, Fitz Harrack, Roy Lawrence, Edna Manley, Ronald Moody, Alvin Marriott, David Miller Snr, David Miller Jnr, Winston Patrick, Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds, Namba Roy, Kay Sullivan, Osmond Watson, Ted Williams and John ‘Doc’ Williamson.

O’Neil Lawrence

Senior Curator

[i]The Blackman: a Daily Newspaper Devoted to the Uplift of the Negro Race and the Good of Humanity. Kingston Jamaica, Saturday August 17, 1929
[ii] Archer-Straw, Petrine, “Black is Colour: Colour as Race” petrinearcher.com Web. 14 March, 2018
[iii] P.230, Clarke, Colin Decolonizing the Colonial City: Urbanization and Stratification in Kingston, Jamaica (Oxford Geographical and Environmental Studies Series)
[iv] Archer-Straw, Petrine, “Black is Colour: Colour as Race” petrinearcher.com Web. 14 March, 2018
[v] P7. Boxer, David Ten Jamaican Sculptors, National Gallery of Jamaica and Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, 1975
[vi] P.10 Chambers, Eddie Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s, I.B.Tauris (October 2, 2014)
[vii] Interview with Laura Facey, February 27, 2018