Gold Musgrave Medal – Petrona Morrison

Petrona Morrison - Reality/Representation (2004), detail of installation

Petrona Morrison – Reality/Representation (2004), detail of installation

Here is the third and final of the citations for this year’s Musgrave Medals in Art, for Petrona Morrison who was awarded the Gold:

“The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Petrona Morrison for distinguished eminence in the field of Art and Art Education.”

“Petrona Morrison was born in the parish of Manchester in 1954. She obtained the Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (Summa Cum Laude) at McMaster University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from Howard University College of Fine Arts. During her MFA studies, she spent a year in Kenya and she was artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 1994 to 1995. More recently, she has also held short-term artists’ residencies at the Contemporary Caribbean Arts in Trinidad in 2002 and at the Bag Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2005.”

“Morrison’s travels and residencies in Kenya, Harlem and South Africa have deeply influenced her artistic development. Her earliest works were fairly conventional, figurative paintings and drawings with autobiographical overtones but her art took a different course in the late 1980s when she started producing textural reliefs and assemblages that incorporated discarded materials.”

Petrona Morrison - Altarpiece 1 & 2 (1991, Collection: NGJ)

Petrona Morrison – Altarpiece 1 & 2 (1991, Collection: NGJ)

“These reflected her interest in traditional African art forms, such as Dogon architecture and the carved doors she had seen in Mombasa; but she invoked these sources poetically rather than literally, as symbolic acts of reconstruction and reconnection.”

“These assemblages became larger over time and culminated in a series of totemic structures made from scrap metal and wood, several of which were over ten feet tall. These assemblages signified, in her own words, “transformation, renewal and healing,” on a personal and broader social level, which has remained as the central theme in her work.”

Petrona Morrison - Sanctuary/Space (For Me), 1995

Petrona Morrison – Sanctuary/Space (For Me), 1995

“Morrison’s residency at the Studio Museum resulted in more three-dimensional constructions that incorporated urban debris such as wood beams and metal fragments from nearby derelict buildings.”

“These recuperation materials were turned into altar-like structures that evoke the frailty of the body and the restorative power of the spirit in the face of material transience. These ritualistic works also mark a turn towards a spirituality related to African-derived New World religions rather than their African sources.”

“By the late 1990s, Morrison’s interest in articulating ritual spaces resulted in room-sized installations that were at first constructed from the recuperation materials she had used in her earlier assemblages but gradually shifted to other, less materially dense media such as medical X-rays, maps and aerial photographs, and other ready-made and purposely produced images, which were placed in front of light boxes and often combined with a few evocative found or constructed objects.”

“These works more directly referred to events in her own life, including her medical history, and also made reference to the social tensions and violence in Jamaican society, which gradually became a more important theme. While materially and visually very different from what she had produced before, these works, nonetheless, reflected thematic continuity as they again spoke about the frailty and resilience of body and spirit and the interconnectedness of the social and the individual.”

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Silver Musgrave Medal – Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media, size irregular  - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media, size irregular – detail

Here is the second citation from this year’s Musgrave Awards, this time regarding Jasmine Thomas-Girvan‘s Silver Musgrave Medal:

“The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Jasmine Thomas-Girvan for outstanding merit in the field of Art.”

“The jeweller and metal-smith Jasmine Thomas-Girvan was born in Jamaica and presently lives in Trinidad and Tobago. She attended the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jewellery and Textile Design. Whilst at Parsons, Thomas-Girvan was awarded the Tiffany Honour Award for Excellence. In 1996 she was the recipient of a Commonwealth Foundation Arts award and in 2012 she was the recipient of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Aaron Matalon Award, as the artist who made the most outstanding contribution to that year’s National Biennial. Her mixed media installation, Dreaming Backwards, which was exhibited in the 2012 Biennial, was subsequently acquired for the National Art Collection.”

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media – detail

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Bronze Musgrave Medal – Phillip Thomas

Phillip Thomas - The N-Train (2008)

Phillip Thomas – The N-Train (2008)

On October 22, three Jamaican artists were awarded Musgrave Medals by the Institute of Jamaica: Petrona Morrison (Gold), Jasmine Thomas-Girvan (Silver) and Phillip Thomas (Bronze). The NGJ congratulates them and, as has become customary, is publishing the citations on its blog, starting with Phillip Thomas:

“The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Mr Phillip Thomas for merit in the field of Art.”

“Phillip Thomas currently teaches painting at the Edna Manley College’s School of Art, his alma mater, where he attained a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting and in the process earned the coveted Albert Huie Prize for painting. He also earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from the New York Academy of Art, where he was awarded a one year post graduate fellowship. He has recently completed a residency at The Prince’s Drawing School Dimplex Studio at Dumfries House in Scotland.”

Phillip Thomas - An Upper Saint Andrew Concubine, triptych, mixed media on canvas, National Biennial 2012

Phillip Thomas – An Upper Saint Andrew Concubine, triptych, mixed media on canvas, National Biennial 2012

“Thomas has exhibited widely in Jamaica and internationally. He won the Public Award in the Mutual Gallery’s Under-40 Artist of the Year competition in 2008 and he is a regular exhibitor at the National Gallery of Jamaica, where he was awarded the prestigious Aaron Matalon Award for his submission to the 2008 Biennial. He is represented internationally by the Richard J. Demato Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York.”

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Last Sundays, October 26, 2014, featuring In Retrospect Exhibition and Maurice Gordon and Pimento

ngj_Sunday_Opening_Oct_26_2014

The National Gallery’s Last Sundays programme for October 2014 is scheduled for Sunday, October 26, from 11 am to 4 pm, and will feature the In Retrospect: 40 Years of the National Gallery of Jamaica exhibition and a musical performance by the Pimento trio, featuring Maurice Gordon.

The In Retrospect: 40 Years of the National Gallery of Jamaica exhibition opened on August 31 and represents the first major event in the National Gallery’s 40th anniversary celebrations. In Retrospect tells the story of the National Gallery through its exhibitions and publications, through major donations, and through the debates that have surrounded the Gallery from its earliest years, with a special focus on the Gallery’s role in articulating how Jamaican art is understood. The exhibition consists mainly of key works from the Gallery’s collection and invites viewers to respond to these works in the context of the National Gallery’s own history. In Retrospect closes on November 15 and is thus in its final weeks.

The Pimento trio, which is scheduled to start at 1:30 pm, plays contemporary jazz, flavored with hints of reggae, R&B, funk, rock and fusion. The trio is headed by the noted guitarist and composer Maurice Gordon, who is acclaimed for his fluid technique, dexterity and highly personal style and cites as his influences Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, George Benson and Bob Marley. Maurice Gordon has performed at festivals in the Caribbean including Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, St. Lucia and Martinique Jazz Festivals, Ramajay Festival (Trinidad), Grenada Spice Jazz Festival.

As is now customary for Last Sundays, admission to the NGJ will be free on Sunday, October 26, and guided tours and children’s activities will also be offered free of cost. Our gift and coffee shop will be open for business and contributions to the donations box are welcomed. Revenues from our shops and donations help to fund programmes such as the In Retrospect exhibition and our Last Sundays programming.

JAMAICA BIENNIAL 2014 – bulletin # 1

Shoshanna Weinberger - Collection of Strangefruit - on view in the 2012 Biennial

Shoshanna Weinberger – Collection of Strangefruit – on view in the 2012 Biennial

Work on the re-branded and re-conceptualized Jamaica Biennial, formerly the National Biennial, is progressing well and the exhibition is scheduled to open with a week of events from December 6 to 14, 2014.

As before, the exhibition comprises a juried section, which is open to all artists living in Jamaica and Jamaican artists and artists of immediate descent living elsewhere, and an invited section, which includes artists with a well-established record of exhibitions and critical response. In a departure from its previous, national focus and a first major step towards internationalizing the Biennial, a select number of international artists have also been invited to contribute special projects, namely Simon Fujiwara (UK/Japan), Renee Cox (Jamaica/USA), Richard Mark Rawlins (Trinidad), Sheena Rose (Barbados), Blue Curry (Bahamas/UK) and James Cooper (Bermuda). For the first time, also the Biennial is operating from more than one venue. In addition to the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston, this will include National Gallery West in Montego Bay and Devon House in Kingston. The 2014 Biennial also involves a collaboration with the Edna Manley College on Simon Fujiwara’s project, which will be created at the College and transferred from there, in the context of a performance, to the National Gallery in downtown Kingston.

Devon House

Devon House

More information on the special projects, the opening week events, and what will be shown at each of the exhibition venue will be shared in future bulletins but in this first bulletin we are focusing on the juried section, for which entries are closing later today, October 17. Thus far, we have logged some 150 entries and we are expecting more by the close of day. The judging will be conducted this weekend and, as part of the reorganization of the Biennial, the entries to the juried section will from now on be adjudged by two international judges, who will bring a fresh perspective to the work submitted and who will also help to raise the international profile of the exhibition. For the 2014 edition, these judges are Diana Nawi and Sara Hermann, both well-respected curators and art historians with extensive regional and international experience.

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National Gallery West Premieres ‘The Price of Memory’ in Montego Bay

Price of Memory flyer - smaller

The Montego Bay Cultural Centre and National Gallery West are pleased to present the Montego Bay premiere of the documentary ‘The Price of Memory,’ a documentary film by Karen Marks Mafundikwa, on Saturday, October 18, starting at 7 pm, at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. The film maker will be in attendance to introduce the film and to answer questions afterwards. Admission will be free but donations in support of the Montego Bay Cultural Centre programmes will be gratefully accepted.

Filmed over the span of eleven years, ‘The Price of Memory’ explores the legacy of slavery in the UK and Jamaica and the initiatives and debates surrounding reparations. The film starts in 2002, with Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Jamaica as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, when she is petitioned by a small group of Rastafari for slavery reparations. The film traces this petition and the first reparations lawsuit to be filed in Jamaica against the Queen, while interweaving stories of earlier Rastas who pursued reparations and repatriation in the 1960s. The filmmaker travels to the UK, exploring the cities which grew wealthy from slavery and the British monarchy’s legacy of slavery, and follows the debates about reparations in both the Jamaican and British parliaments. ‘The Price of Memory’ premiered at Pan African Film Festival 2014 in Los Angeles and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the upcoming Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2014 in late September. The Jamaican premiere was at UWI-Mona on September 7 and the film received a standing ovation from the capacity audience.

Karen Marks Mafundikwe is Jamaican filmmaker who originates from Montego Bay and the opening scene of ‘The Price of Memory’ is set on Sam Sharpe Square. She holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Anthropology from New York University and an MSc in International Development from the Tulane University School of Law. Mafundikwa is also credited with another  documentary feature ‘Shungu: The Resilience of a People’ (2009 which won the Ousmane Sembene Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival 2010 and Best Documentary, Kenya International Film Festival 2010.

All interested persons are cordially invited to attend the Montego Bay premier of ‘The Price of Memory’ on October 18. This event also launches the National Gallery West/Montego Bay Cultural Centre film programme.