The 2014 Aaron Matalon and Dawn Scott Memorial Awards Are Announced

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The National Gallery of Jamaica extends heartiest congratulations to Ebony G. Patterson, the winner of the 2014 Aaron Matalon Award, and Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford, the co-winners of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award. Both awards are attached to the Jamaica Biennial 2014 exhibition, which opened with a week of events from December 7 to 14 and continues until March 15, 2015 at the National Gallery of Jamaica and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. The awards were announced at the Biennial’s main opening reception at the National Gallery on Sunday, December 14.

The Aaron Matalon Award is granted to the artist who, in the opinion of the combined Exhibitions and Acquisitions committees of the National Gallery made the most outstanding contribution to the Biennial. The award is named after the National Gallery’s late Chairman and benefactor, the Hon. Aaron Matalon, OJ. Awardees receive a unique medal, hand-crafted by the noted jeweller Carol Campbell, and a monetary award. Previous awardees include Phillip Thomas, Norma Rodney Harrack, Renee Cox, Omari Ra and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan.

The 2014 Aaron Matalon Awardee Ebony G. Patterson is a graduate of the Edna Manley College (BFA) and the Sam Fox College of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St Louis (MFA). She is presently an Associate Professor in the Fine Arts department of the University of Kentucky. Patterson is one of the most outstanding and internationally acclaimed artists to emerge in Jamaica in the last decade and she has received several awards, including the 2011 Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies and the 2012 Bronze Musgrave Medal. Ebony G. Patterson’s is a uniquely Caribbean aesthetic that melds elements of “high” and “low” art and draws from carnival costuming, Haitian sequined flags, and above all the “bling” of Jamaican Dancehall fashion. Her recent work explores the politics of visibility and invisibility, with regards to the cultural and social implications of violence and death in Jamaican society. Her Biennial projects are exhibited at Devon House and consist of two floor-based tapestry installations from the Dead Treez series, titled Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds and Trunk Stump and Dominoes, that are embellished with needlework, crochet, glitter, and various objects, including clothing, shoes and children’s toys.

The new Dawn Scott Memorial Award was initiated by the internationally renowned art critic Edward M. Gomez in honour of his late friend, the Jamaican artist Allison Dawn Scott. Dawn Scott is best known for her ground-breaking and highly influential mixed media installation A Cultural Object (1985, Collection: National Gallery) but she also produced figurative batik paintings that depict Jamaican life and people with a unique blend of poetry and realism. She also worked as an interior designer who produced innovative, culturally grounded shop designs and architectural detailing. The awardee is personally selected by Mr Gomez and is a granted to an emerging artist in the Biennial who represents the artistically innovative, socially committed spirit of Dawn Scott. The Dawn Scott Memorial Award also involves a monetary grant. Given the very competitive nature of 2014 Biennial, it comes as no surprise that the Dawn Scott Memorial Award was tied between two artists, Kimani Beckford and Camille Chedda, and Edward Gomez consequently decided to split the award between the two. Continue reading

Slide Show: Dawn Scott – A Cultural Object (1985)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We present this slide-show on Dawn Scott’s seminal site-specific installation A Cultural Object (1985), in tribute to the artist, who passed away on Tuesday. You can read more about A Cultural Object, which is on permanent view at the NGJ,  by clicking this link.

Photographs: Phillip Rhoden, NGJ

In Memoriam: Dawn Scott (1951-2010)

Dawn Scott at work on A Cultural Object in June 1985 - producing the body cast for the central figure

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets to announce that the Jamaican artist and designer Dawn Scott has passed away this morning, September 21, 2010.

Born Alison Dawn Scott in Mandeville in 1951, Dawn Scott had her first exhibition in 1971, when she showed a group of paintings, drawings and sculptures at the United States Information Service in Kingston. She started producing figurative batik paintings in the mid 1970s and first exhibited these in 1975 at the Creative Arts Centre of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. She also lived in Barbados in the late 1970s  and exhibited there at the Queen’s Park Gallery and Yoruba House in 1978.

Figurative batik was Dawn Scott’s main medium for some twenty years, culminating in her solo exhibition Nature Vive (1994) at the Grosvenor Galleries in Kingston. By far her most impactful exhibition, however, was her contribution to Six Options: Gallery Spaces Transformed (1985), the National Gallery’s (and Jamaica’s) first exhibition of installation art. On this occasion, she produced A Cultural Object, a haunting, spiral-shaped “zinc fence” structure which transposed some of the realities of Jamaica’s inner city life into the gallery spaces of the National Gallery.

Dawn Scott has taught textile art at the School of Visual Arts, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where she recently also served as an external examiner. She was also active as a fashion designer and her handmade, hand-dyed clothes were in great demand, locally, in the 1980s and early 1990s. Around 1980, she had been closely involved in the restoration of the Harmony Hall manse in Tower Isle, St Mary, and designed the ornamental fretwork for the building. Her long-standing interest in interior design and architectural detailing became her primary professional preoccupation in the latter years of her life and she was involved in major projects such as the Island Village in Ocho Rios and the Goldeneye Villas in Oracabessa, Portland, on both of which she collaborated with the acclaimed Jamaican architect Ann Hodges. Each of these projects adapted aspects of Jamaica’s architectural heritage in a contemporary context.

Dawn Scott received the Institute of Jamaica’s Centenary Medal in 1979 and a Bronze Musgrave Medal for merit in the Visual Arts in 1999.

Dawn Scott - Indian Girl (n.d.), batik

Continue reading

Dawn Scott’s “A Cultural Object”

Dawn Scott - A Cultural Object (1985) - detail of central figure

This post is about one of the most popular and controversial art works in the NGJ’s permanent collection, Dawn Scott’s “A Cultural Object” (1985). The post is adapted from an article in progress by NGJ Executive Director Veerle Poupeye.

Dawn Scott (b1951) is a Jamaican textile artist and interior designer who is best known for her realist batik paintings and, since the 1990s, her innovative store and interior designs for the local and tourist markets. She participated in the NGJ’s 1985 Six Options: Gallery Spaces Transformed exhibition, an exhibition for which six artists were invited to produce installations in the NGJ’s exhibition galleries, and then produced A Cultural Object, her only installation to date. The room-sized work effectively brings the physical and cultural environment of the Kingston inner cities into the “high culture” space of the NGJ. It consists of a spiral-shaped “zinc-fence”, made from recuperated corrugated metal and lumber – the dominant building materials in the local squatter settlements. The surfaces contain the sort of street art, shop signs and graffiti that are commonly seen in Kingston’s inner cities. It starts with a large sign that reads “Culture zone, enter at your own risk,” which spoofs the “PNP (or JLP) zone, enter at your own risk” inscriptions that mark the borders of many political garrison communities. The imagery and graffiti on the walls successively deal with popular music, street food, the rum bar, the beauty culture, the attitudes towards women and sexuality, religion, politics and, at the centre, mental illness and homelessness, which takes the form of the reclining, rag-clad figure of a male street person. At first sight, the installation appears unplanned, much like a squatter settlement, but it is carefully orchestrated: the claustrophobic, trap-like spiral corridor deliberately takes the visitor from amusement to horror, when the shockingly realistic street person in the middle is suddenly seen.

Continue reading