On Sunday, August 31, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, M.P., Minister of Youth and Culture, was the guest speaker at the opening of In Retrospect: 40 Years of the National Gallery of Jamaica, our 40th anniversary exhibition. the Minister’s opening remarks are below.
“We have come a far way. Often in our haste to get on with the business of creating a better world, we do not take the time to just pause for a minute and to see the changes around us and the progress we have made as a government and as a people.”
“This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Gallery of Jamaica. When this Gallery began in November, 1974 it was the English-speaking Caribbean’s first national gallery. Today is it the region’s oldest and largest national art museum. The recent addition of National Gallery West in Montego Bay has further added to the Gallery’s reach and size. That is progress!”
“Over its 40 years, the National Gallery has used art to tell the story of our people — how we see ourselves, how we project ourselves and how we understand ourselves. It is interesting to see how our artists have captured and interpreted the ways in which our ideas have evolved with modernity and the enhancing our national confidence over the years. That is also progress!”
“We will use this anniversary as an occasion to look back at progress. We will examine the outstanding developments in Jamaican art over the years — and the role that the Gallery has played in the shaping of the unique Jamaican art character.”
“This exhibition, which I have the duty and honour to open today, consists of 131 works of art — only a fraction of the collection that we’ve built up in 40 years — but these works provide a wide panorama of Jamaican art history, spanning four centuries.”
The exhibition features works from artists as diverse as Edna Manley, Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds, Albert Huie, Barrington Watson, Karl Parboosingh, Carl Abrahams, Oneika Russell, Laura Facey, Maria LaYacona, Omari Ra, Cecil Baugh, Norma Rodney Harrack and David Boxer.
“I am very sorry that David Boxer wasn’t able to be with us today, but I especially wish to pay tribute to him. The National Gallery owes a special debt to Dr Boxer who was our Chief Curator for several years and who served the organisation for thirty-seven years in all. Without any fear of contradiction whatsoever, I will say that no one has been as instrumental to the development of the National Gallery as Dr Boxer and we thank him for his service.”
“Dr Boxer continues to serve. For the last year and a half he has been working on a special assignment at the Institute of Jamaica chronicling the development of Jamaican art. We expect that his publication, when completed, will become one of the seminal pieces on Jamaica art which will inform and influence generations to come.”