Remember This: Tributes and Selections from the National Collection

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Having spent three months exhibiting a wide range of work produced in the last two years in the National Biennial, we at the National Gallery now turn our attention to history and memory. The current temporary exhibition honours those who are recently departed and brings back some of our Permanent Collection favourites.

In the last few months, the Jamaican artistic community has reeled from the deaths of three of our most long-standing, productive and prolific members; Gaston Tabois (d. Nov 20, 2012), Petrine Archer-Straw (d. Dec 5, 2012) and Fitz Harrack (d. Jan 10, 2013). To honour them, three mini tributes have been installed, showcasing their work. For the next few weeks, patrons will be able to see several of Tabois’ most beloved works (including Taino Cave Rituals - on loan from Michael Gardner), a display of a number of Harrack’s wood sculptures and his larger-than-life metal work North, South, East, West in Conversation. Both displays are accompanied by a text panel with a brief biography. In the case of Archer-Straw who was an artist, but also a curator and art historian, patrons will be treated to a small sampling of her art work, a display of a selection of her publications and an additional text panel that explains her work and its relationship to global and local art world trends.

The rest of the exhibition features works from our National Collection drawing on four themes: Pattern and Decoration, Postcolonialism and Religion, Depictions of Motherhood and the Intuitives. Longtime favourites of the Jamaican public such as Barrington Watson’s Mother and Child and Allan ‘Zion’ Johnson’s Peacock are back on display. However, there are also a number of rarely seen works such as Sherida Levy’s unusual Jamaican Madonna and J. McCloud’s Mother and Child.

Needless to say, the current exhibition offers something for everyone and complements our permanent exhibitions, which provide an overview of Jamaican art from the Taino the the late 20th century. School groups will benefit from the thematic focus of the current exhibition and families are encouraged to take advantage of our Last Sundays and other special events. Our more familiar visitors can engage with memories of friends passed and artwork long missed. We hope to see you soon!

Tribute to Petrine Archer-Straw (1956-2012)

PPetrine Archer_From the magic Carpet Series

Petrine Archer-Straw – From the Magic Carpet Series (1987), Collection: NGJ, The Guy McIntosh Donation

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of Dr Petrine Archer-Straw, Jamaican art historian, curator, critic and educator. Dr Archer-Straw was a past Board and and a past staff member of the National Gallery.

Petrine Archer-Straw was born in Birmingham, England, to Jamaican parents, and her family moved back to Jamaica in the early 1970s. A graduate of the University of the West Indies-Mona and the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College), she joined the Education Department staff of the National Gallery in 1983 and thus started what would become a distinguished international career as an art historian and curator.  Petrine Archer-Straw was instrumental in developing the Education department’s lecture, panel discussion and film screening programmes and her input helped to turn the department into a lively center for discussion and research. One of her key contributions was a series of lectures on masterpieces from the National Gallery collection, such as Barrington Watson’s Mother and Child and Christopher Gonzales’ Homage to Bob Marley, which derived from her extensive research on these works of art, the artists, and their context.

PArcherStraw_Annual National opening_1998

Petrine Archer-Straw at a National Gallery function, circa 1997

After completing an M.Phil. in History at the University of the West Indies, which she did while working at the National Gallery, Petrine Archer-Straw continued her post-graduate studies in Art History at the prestigious Courtauld Institute, University of London, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1995. She was also a certified appraiser (New York University, 2010) and an Associate of the Appraisers Association of America. Continue reading