Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons – Tell Us What You Think!

Edna Manley - Paul Bogle (1965), Photograph: Amador Packer

LET US HEAR FROM YOU!

Since Independence, there have been several controversies about public monuments in Jamaica, starting in 1963 with the proposed National Monument for the Harbour View Roundabout, which was to be designed and sculpted by Alvin Marriott but which was never completed as a result. The other controversies pertained to Edna Manley’s Bogle (1965), Christopher Gonzales’ Bob Marley (1983) and Laura Facey’s Redemption Song (2003).

By far the most protracted controversy has been about the Bogle monument, which started at the time of its  1965 unveiling in front of the Morant Bay Courthouse, had resurfaced in 1971,  and flared up again in 2009, after the statue had been moved to Kingston for restoration.  A group of Morant Bay stakeholders requested that the monument should not be returned and replaced by a new monument, based on Paul Bogle’s presumed “true likeness” – the photograph reproduced below. The matter remains unresolved and the NGJ has made use of the presence of the recently restored statue in Kingston to present an exhibition on the subject, which opens on September 23 and continues until November 13.

Unknown photographer - portrait of Bogle (?), c1865?, copied from original tintype

Continue reading

Press Release – Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons

Edna Manley - Bogle (1965), Photograph: David Boxer, 1970

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition titled Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons, which will open to the public on Sunday, September 26.

This research-based exhibition examines the iconographies of Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion, with a specific focus on Edna Manley’s Bogle monument and the assumed photograph of Paul Bogle. The photograph was uncovered in the late 1950s and, while there are unresolved questions about its attribution, has become the de facto official representation of Paul Bogle. Edna Manley’s Bogle was unveiled in 1965 as the official monument to the Morant Bay rebellion and was located in front of the historic Morant Bay courthouse until it was recently removed for restoration. A second, truncated version can be seen in the 1865 Memorial at National Heroes Park in Kingston. Continue reading

Edna Manley’s Bogle

Edna Manley, Bogle (1965), photographed in 1970 by David Boxer

There has been much controversy, recently, about Edna Manley’s 1965 Paul Bogle monument, which was for nearly forty years located in front of the Morant Bay Court House, where it served as a monument to the Jamaican National Hero Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion.  The monument had been damaged by vandals and weakened by the 2007 Morant Bay Courthouse fire and was taken to Kingston for restoration. Stakeholders in the Morant Bay community have however opposed its return and demanded its replacement with another monument that would be a “true likeness” of Bogle, based on a presumed photograph of him. This request subsequently received the support of the St. Thomas Parish Council and the KSAC. The future location of Edna Manley’s Bogle Statue is currently under debate.

The current controversy is the third such episode around this monument: the first one occurred at the time of the unveiling in 1965 and the second in the early 1970s. The debate about  the Bogle monument is one of several controversies that have surrounded public monuments in Jamaica in the post-Independence period – the controversies about the  1983 Bob Marley statue by Christopher Gonzalez and the 2003 Redemption Song/Emancipation by Laura Facey are the two other main examples.

This post, which was written by NGJ Chief Curator David Boxer, is adapted from “Edna Manley’s Bogle: Creation of an Icon,” a  NGJ exhibition and publication in preparation, which will examine the creation of Edna Manley’s Bogle and the debates that have surrounded it.

In 1964 when Edna Manley was commissioned to do the statue of Paul Bogle in preparation for the commemoration of the centenary of the Morant Bay Rebellion, she was faced with a common problem that has faced countless artists who are required to make a representational image of a historic figure for which no true and acceptable likeness is available. For unlike the established image of George William Gordon, the other National Hero who was also executed in the aftermath of the Morant Bay rebellion, there was no accepted image of Bogle. A few years before she worked on the commission, an image had surfaced which was purported to be of Bogle but there were many who questioned its authenticity.

Continue reading