The A.D. Scott Collection

Barrington Watson – portrait of A.D. Scott (c1969), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

For some time now, the NGJ has been refurbishing and reinstalling its permanent collections and in 2010 we started work on the modern Jamaican section, “Jamaican Art: the 20th Century”. We have now continued this process and incorporated into this section a gallery with selections from the A.D. Scott Collection, a major group of donations to the NGJ that provide a vivid picture of Jamaican art in the post-Independence decades. Scott was very actively involved in the art of that period, by means of the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association, which he chaired for many, his friendships with Barrington Watson, Eugene Hyde and Karl Parbooshingh, and the 1974 establishment of the Olympia International Art Centre. With the Barrington Watson retrospective currently on view, until April 14, and the Jamaica 50 observations in progress, we could not think of a better moment to open this new section of our permanent exhibitions. Here is more about A.D. Scott and the A.D. Scott Collection:

Ainsworth David Scott, OD (1912-2004)

A.D. Scott, or ‘Scotty” as he was affectionately referred to by those familiar with him, was born in Kingston, Jamaica on January 27, 1912. A.D. Scott was among the first to attend the Kingston College which was established in 1925.

Later, he studied at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada, gaining a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering. Whilst in Canada, he further developed his skills as a highly competent engineer, securing key positions including Senior Assistant Engineer in the Royal Canadian Air Force and engineer-in-charge of Aerodrome Construction for the Canadian Government. Upon his return to Jamaica in 1945, he was appointed engineer-in-charge of construction for the University College of the West Indies. His later contributions to national infrastructural development would include the construction of the U.W.I Chapel, the National Stadium and the Hope Reservoir, earning him the title of Jamaican Master Builder.

The interior of the Olympia International Art Centre – please note Barrington Watson’s 1974 Our Heritage mural on the top floor

Throughout his professional life, A.D. Scott passionately championed the development of Jamaican visual arts culture.  He firmly believed that the arts could and should be integrated within the business community and that the visual arts could provide a path to cultural development. As a prolific and fanatic patron of the arts, A.D. Scott boasted the largest comprehensive collection of artworks from various traditional and contemporary Jamaican artists by the mid-seventies. Additionally, he became the Chairman of the Contemporary Jamaican Artists Association when the group was active during the early sixties to mid-seventies and established the Olympia International Art Centre in 1974 where an active programme of art exhibitions as well as other cultural events was maintained. He also assisted greatly in the formalization of the National Gallery of Jamaica, serving as board director and benefactor and frequently donated pieces from his own collection for various philanthropic ventures. His most significant contribution was however the donation of what is now known as the A.D. Scott Collection.

Alvin Marriott – Boysie (1962), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

A.D. Scott was the recipient of several national honours, including a Silver Musgrave medal (1978) and a Centenary Medal (1980) from the Institute of Jamaica, as well the Order of Distinction (c1975). A.D. Scott passed away on June 16, 2004.

The A.D. Scott Collection

A.D. Scott began collecting Jamaican artwork some time during the late forties. By the mid-seventies, he had amassed an estimated six hundred pieces of work, the largest collection of Jamaican art of its time. The artists he patronized included the likes of Edna Manley (from whom he acquired his first piece, The Hills of Papine, 1949), Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, Alvin Marriott, David Pottinger and Ralph Campbell as well as younger contemporaries of the time such as Karl Parboosingh, Barrington Watson, Eugene Hyde, Osmond Watson, Gloria Escoffery and much later, Milton George. In an interview with Basil McFarlane in 1974, Scott described a collector as “a fanatic for either colour or form or … the acquisition of other people’s experience.” Artist and writer, Gloria Escoffery added to this sentiment in 1988, when she wrote, “Scotty was a delighted spectator as experimentation by artists in the main-stream produced a plethora of adaptations of international styles.”

Karl Parboosingh – Cement Company (1966), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

A.D. Scott’s association with the National Gallery of Jamaica is remembered not only for his tenure as a board member in its early years but also for his generosity in lending works from his personal collection for key exhibitions – such as the travelling exhibition organized by the National Gallery and Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service in 1982 – as well as periodic full and partial donations to the National Gallery’s Collection. Later, the National Gallery staged an exhibition of one hundred and one works from Scott’s collection in 1988.

Two sets of artworks share the title “The A.D. Scott Collection”: a donation of twenty-five works to the University of the West Indies in 1994, which is on view in its Main Library, and his collective donations to the National Gallery, a group of sixty-two works. Chief among these donations to the National Gallery was a presentation of thirty-eight works in 1990, accepted on behalf of the nation by then Prime Minister, the late Most Honourable Michael Manley.

Contributed by the Education Department

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