National Biennial 2012: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan wins the 2012 Aaron Matalon Award

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

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

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce that Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, jeweller and sculptor, has been awarded the 2012 Aaron Matalon Award. The Aaron Matalon award is presented at each biennial to the artist who in the opinion of a jury comprised of the members of the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committees of the National Gallery of Jamaica has made the most outstanding contribution to the biennial. Jasmine Thomas-Girvan is represented by two mixed media sculptures: Dreaming Backwards, a wall-based assemblage, and Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), which is freestanding.

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

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

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan was born 1961 in Jamaica. She attended the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she received a BFA in Jewellery and Textile Design and was awarded the Tiffany Honour Award for Excellence. She also received a Prime Minister’s Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Jamaica, and she was the recipient of a Commonwealth Foundation Arts award in 1996. Jasmine has also made a number of public commissions, one of which was presented to the Queen of England. Jasmine’s work has been exhibited in the USA, Jamaica, Trinidad, Venezuela and Mexico, and she recently had a solo exhibition, titled Resonance, at Hi-Qo Gallery in Kingston. She currently lives and works in Trinidad.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media (bronze, wood, found objects, feathers), 365.7 x 7.6 cm

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media (bronze, wood, found objects, feathers), 365.7 x 7.6 cm

While she is still best known as a jeweller, Jasmine’s recent work has moved beyond the conventional jewellery formats and she stated in a recent interview about her work in the 2012 National Biennial: “Over time my work has been expanding in scale and so one of the pieces is a wall piece 10 feet long, titled Dreaming Backwards. This piece brings together many of the recurring themes in my work, referencing our collective history/memory, and is realized in materials which are environmentally relevant [such as a palm frond, bird feathers and man-made found objects]. The second piece traverses the defined boundaries of jewellery and sculpture [and] is titled Alchemy of Promise. It is crafted in local mahogany and bronze with wearable [jewellery accents] and jumbie beads. It represents a meditation on the way forward.”

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), mixed media - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), mixed media – detail

Jasmine’s current work reflects poetically – and ironically – on the human condition and current events, with specific reference to the Caribbean. With its exquisite juxtaposition of found and hand-crafted objects, Jasmine’s work relies on the combined poetic resonance of image, object and material and it often exists in dialogue with literary sources. Dreaming Backwards, for instance, has inscribed the following excerpt from a poem by Octavio Paz:

We must dream backwards,
Towards the source,
We must row back up the
Centuries, beyond infancy,
Beyond the beginning,
Beyond the waters of baptism
 
We must break down the wall
Between man and man
And reunite what was
Surrendered

While the image of the man rowing against the forward-moving forces of the world may seem like a symbol of human futility, it is in effect a hopeful image of self-discovery and reconciliation.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan at the National Biennial opening on December 9, 2012 (with NGJ Assistant Curator O'Neil Lawrence, left, and artist Marlon James)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan at the National Biennial opening on December 9, 2012 (with NGJ Assistant Curator O’Neil Lawrence, left, and artist Marlon James)

The Aaron Matalon award is named after the Chairman Emeritus of the National Gallery, the late Hon. Aaron Matalon, OJ, who along with his wife Marjorie in 1999 donated to the National Gallery two hundred and eighteen major works of art in a gesture that has been hailed as “one of the most generous acts of philanthropy in our nation’s history.” The award, a specially crafted, unique medallion, which for each biennial draws its major design elements from a notable masterwork in the National Collection, is accompanied by a modest cash prize. The medallion is handmade by master jeweller and sculptor Carol Campbell and this year’s design was inspired by Osmond Watson’s master-painting The Lawd is my Shepherd (1969).

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), mixed media (Bronze, wood, jumbie beads, and other materials)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), mixed media (Bronze, wood, jumbie beads, and other materials)

For further reading on Jasmine Thomas-Girvan’s recent work, please click here.

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9 thoughts on “National Biennial 2012: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan wins the 2012 Aaron Matalon Award

  1. Congrats ..to Jasmine well deserved. For me, her pieces bring out the soul in you and takes you on her journey to places far and beyond our imagination. She is able to combine the histories of our past to make the journey into our future a much easier one … congrats again

  2. Absolutely stunning. Jasmine Thomas – Girvan always brings an Essence of Culture. An award well deserved. Congrats from the Y Art Gallery Trinidad.

  3. Pingback: Jamaica: The 2012 Aaron Matalon Award · Global Voices

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