The work of self-taught painter and sculptor Everald Brown is best understood in the context of religious Rastafari and African-Jamaican spirituality. Like many other religious Rastafarians, Brother Brown was attracted to the teachings and ritual practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and in the early 1960s established the Assembly of the Living, a self-styled mission of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which was located at 82 ½ Spanish Town Road. The beliefs, ritual practices and symbols of Brother Brown and his church community were however far from “orthodox’” and freely combined elements of religious Rastafari, Freemasonry, Kumina, Revival, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.
Visitors to this blog have requested more information on Jamaican artists. Here is a biography of Everald Brown, the first of what will become a blog archive on the artists who are represented in our collection. It was adapted from an obituary written by Veerle Poupeye in 2003:
Everald Brown’s artistic beginnings can be situated in the popular cultural ferment in West Kingston that produced Rastafarianism and reggae, fuelled by rural-to-urban migration and growing race and social consciousness among the popular masses. Brother Brown was primarily interested in the spiritual aspects of Rastafarianism and established the Assembly of the Living, a self-styled mission of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, which was located at 82 1/2 Spanish Town Road. His earliest preserved works are carved ritual objects, such as his prayer staff, and the painted decorations he produced for his church. These works illustrate Brother Brown’s assimilation of Ethiopian Orthodox artistic models but also his rootedness in older Afro-Jamaican popular culture, particularly Revivalism and Kumina. Most of all, they reflect the remarkable spiritual and visual imagination that made Everald Brown one of the most original artists of his generation.