National Gallery to host panel discussion for 2015 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference

Rex Nettleford - Panel Discussion-01The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is pleased to partner with the Edna Manley College’s 2015 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference to present a panel discussion on the various critical issues addressed by the artists in its current Young Talent 2015 exhibition.

The panel discussion will take place at the NGJ on Friday, October 16, 2015 from 11 am to 12:30 pm. Featured artists Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Monique Gilpin, Domanie Hong, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagaye Osborne and Cosmo Whyte will be present to discuss their bodies of work and the panel will be moderated by the NGJ’s Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, and Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson.

The NGJ has intermittently held Young Talent exhibitions since 1985 when Jamaica hosted the International Youth Conference. The fifth in that series held in 2010 was a ground-breaking exhibition featured artists such as Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson and Oneika Russell who have dramatically changed the Jamaican artistic landscape. Its spin off exhibition New Roots in 2013 featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Camille Chedda and Deborah Anzinger and brought to the fore a new set of voices willing to break down the barriers between artist and viewing public experimenting with greater interactivity.

The current emerging contemporary artistic language is represented in this exhibition by a healthy range of media from traditional painting and fibre based work to more experimental forms such ads GIF collages. The artists in Young Talent 2015 all show a willingness to experiment within their media as well as engage with the difficult issues, such as gender violence, social dysfunction, forced migration and marginalization, within the current social environment.

The Young Talent 2015 exhibition opened on August 30 and continues until November 14, 2015, is in keeping with the NGJ’s mandate to support artistic development and to provide opportunities for young artists. Due to the current innovative spirit and energy within Jamaica’s contemporary art scene, the NGJ plans to hold this exhibition every two years.

Admission to the NGJ will be free on October 16 and free guided tours of the Young Talent 2015 exhibition will be offered before and after the panel discussion. Conference registration is not required to attend this panel discussion.

For more information on the Rex Nettleford Arts Conference, please click here.

Jamaica’s Art Pioneers: Rhoda Jackson (1913-1971)

Rhoda Jackson -Washing by the River - (1945, Collection: NGJ)

Rhoda Jackson -Washing by the River – (1945, Collection: NGJ)

The Jamaican painter and designer Rhoda Jackson is usually mentioned in accounts of Jamaican art history, but has not received the more comprehensive attention her work warrants – her story is one of a number of untold stories in Jamaican art. While filling this gap requires a longer term research project, we are now presenting this short, initial feature on her work. We invite members of the public who have information about her life and work, and photographs of her extant work in painting and design, to contact us, so that we can expand and update this feature.

Rhoda Jackson (1913 – 1971) was a Jamaican artist and designer who was active from the mid 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Gilmock Hall, St Elizabeth and was based in Mandeville for most of her life.  She attended the Hampton High School in Malvern, St Elizabeth in Jamaica and subsequently trained in art at the Reading University Arts School in England, and the Art Student League in New York City. Her uncle Cyril G. Jackson was a watercolourist of some note and was also based in Mandeville.

Rhoda Jackson - souvenir tea towel (Jamaica)

Rhoda Jackson – souvenir tea towel (Jamaica)

Rhoda Jackson is best known for the murals and designs she did mainly for the tourism industry, for instance at the Tower Isle Hotel, where she also had regular exhibitions. She also did designs for embroidery, including for the Allsides workshop, and other textiles and designed advertisements, postcards and book covers. She was one of the first professional designers on record in Jamaica – the art deco furniture designer Burnett Webster being another.

Richmond Barthe - portrait of Rhoda Jackson (c1960, Collection: NGJ)

Richmond Barthe – portrait of Rhoda Jackson (c1960, Collection: NGJ)

There are many things about Rhoda Jackson’s life that warrant further research: during her student years in England, for instance, she was friendly with the famous Scottish photojournalist George Rodger, one of the founders of the Magnum photographic cooperative. Rodger visited her in Jamaica in 1950 and made several noteworthy photographs of the island during his visit. The African-American sculptor Richmond Barthé, who owned a house in St Ann and lived in Jamaica from 1947 and for about 20 years, did a portrait bust of her circa 1960. Rhoda Jackson also appears to have been friendly with the English painter Eve Disher, who was a repeat visitor to the island.

Book cover design by Rhoda Jackson

Book cover design by Rhoda Jackson

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Last Sundays, September 27, 2015: featuring Young Talent 2015 and Quilt

September 27 Last Sunday(rgb)

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for September 27, 2015 will feature the Young Talent 2015 exhibition and a performance by the Quilt Performing Arts Company.

Young Talent 2015 features ten artists under forty years old, namely: Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin, Domanie Hong, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagay Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte. Young Talent 2015 , which opened on August 30 and continues until November 14, is the sixth of what will from now on be a biennial series of exhibitions, which are designed to provide national exposure to new and emerging artists and to stimulate the development of Jamaican art in the process. Young Talent 2015 includes a healthy range of artistic media and practices, including new and more traditional media, such as GIF collages, fibre-based work and representational painting, which coexist productively as part of Jamaica’s contemporary art language. While some of it is also deeply personal, most of the work selected for Young Talent 2015 is explicitly or implicitly political—tackling challenging subjects such as gender violence, social dysfunction, power and marginalization, the politics of the body, and displacement and forced migration.

The award-winning Quilt Performing Arts Company has a mission to transform theatre by means of an exciting combination of different personalities, talents, emotions, experiences, visions, words and music – hence the company name, Quilt. Using “devised theatre” (or collaborative improvisation) as their main tool of expression, and under the leadership of Rayon McLean, the group’s main focus is to provide pieces with a strong social message that forces audiences to think and reflect, feel, laugh, and learn. For their performance on September 27, the company will be revisiting two pieces from their repertoire – Ancestral Spirits, which explores African-Caribbean ancestry, and Missing, which is about men who have been lost to society – and they will also improvise in response to works in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition.

As is now customary for Last Sundays, the doors will be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm and the Quilt performance starts at 1:30. Admission and guided tours will be free. Contributions to our donations box are, however, much appreciated and help to fund exhibitions such as Young Talent 2015 and our Last Sundays programming. The gift and coffee shop will also be open for business.

Summer Workshops 2015


The following was contributed by our Education Department:

In last few years, the NGJ Education Department has been quite keen on developing various innovative educational programmes, particularly during the summer period. Summer is always a good time to target programme formats to different groups, particularly within the demographic of youngsters aged eight years and older. This summer was particularly active, as we piloted some new approaches to our usual programming. Areas of special focus included more extensive community outreach as well as the utilization of the NGJ’s educational and research resources by our young stakeholders.

We began in early July, with our annual collaboration with the MultiCare Foundation’s Summer Art on the Waterfront programme, which has been ongoing since the 1990s. The workshops themselves were held at a location on Church Street, however, the coordinators scheduled two days in which the participants visited the NGJ and created artwork inspired by classics from the permanent collection.


Later that month, we collaborated with Paint Jamaica and the Parade Gardens community collective known as Life Yard, to hold the Fleet Street Summer Workshops from July 20 to 31. These workshops took place in Parade Gardens at 44 Fleet Street, in the vicinity of the remarkable Fleet Street murals, completed in 2014 under the Paint Jamaica programme. With their main task being the creation of designs for palette furniture built by the Life Yard family, it was a welcomed opportunity for the children in residence to engage in visual art activities within their community. The activities also included weekly yoga sessions, conducted by instructor Nadine McNeil a.k.a. The Universal Empress and President of the Jamaica Wrestling Federation, Kevin Wallen, both of whom graciously volunteered their time to the project. In the words of the Universal Empress:

It is a blessing whenever I am given an opportunity to share the gifts of yoga and mindfulness, especially with youth. Their level of attentiveness and absorption is truly a humble sight to behold… Having just completed my Kripalu Yoga in Schools training for which I received a full scholarship, my involvement with the camp was my way of paying it and playing it forward.

We ended the run of summer educational programmes with another project entitled Writivity, Journaling for CSEC, which was targeted to students preparing to sit Visual Arts examinations for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate. Held from August 10 to August 14, a group of energetic teenagers from different schools across Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine immersed themselves as young documenters and critics of art. Their activities focused on the development and submission of the reflective art journal, which is a requirement for all CSEC Visual Arts candidates.

It was a great summer for us indeed, with lots of laughter, sharing and learning. So as we gear up for September and beyond, we would like to thank the MultiCare Foundation, Paint Jamaica, the Life Yard family and the Caribbean Examinations Council office for helping us make these programmes a success. Special thanks also to yoga instructors Universal Empress and Kevin Wallen; Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Marlon Williams; as well as one of our regular collaborators, artist and educator Dale Bedasse.

Most of all, we would like to extend a loud and excited THANK YOU to all the children who participated in these programmes and shared so much with us this summer. It was a truly enjoyable and inspiring experience for us and we look forward to bringing you even more exciting and value-filled offerings. P.S. Note to Parents and Guardians: You Are Next!

(Photographs National Gallery of Jamaica and courtesy of Sabriya Simon Photography)

Young Talent 2015: Cosmo Whyte

Cosmo Whyte - YOU Know WE Can't Swim Right? (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – YOU Know WE Can’t Swim Right? (2015)

Here is the last of our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens today, Sunday, August 30. Doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm. The function starts at 1:30 pm, and will feature a short documentary on the participating artists and a musical performance by Jah9. The exhibition continues until November 14.

Cosmo Whyte was born in St Andrew, Jamaica in 1982. He attended Bennington College in Vermont where he obtained his BFA, Maryland Institute College of Art for a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and he graduated first in his class from the University of Michigan for his MFA. Cosmo Whyte is currently a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Cosmo Whyte - Town Crier (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – Town Crier (2015)

Artist’s Statement

“Terra Incognita…The New World is the third term—the primal scene—where the fateful/fatal encounter was staged between Africa and the West…. stands for the endless ways which Caribbean people have been destined to migrate.” (Stuart Hall, Cultural Identity and Diaspora, 1994)

My current body of work explores postcolonial identity through the lens of tourism, diaspora, globalization and migration. Through the process of installations of drawings, photographs and sculpture, I argue for the re-examination of identity as not fixed, but liquid and in a constant state of flux. Taken in its entirety, my work is interested in probing the following question: How has identity, sense of placelessness, or presence been altered by dislocation?

Cosmo Whyte - The Ginal

Cosmo Whyte – The Ginal

The work in Young Talent 2015 argues that the modern condition is migratory and as vast numbers of people continue to cross borders (sometimes at great loss) the question of citizenship and home becomes increasingly complicated. I have approached this show as a testing ground to explore parallels that exist between the mass migration of West and East African through the Mediterranean into Europe and Haitians being forced to leave Dominican Republic. None of the work on display is didactic but it rather looks on the black body as it is situated in a specific historical context when it comes to borders, migration, death by water, and survival.

Cosmo Whyte - Punch Drunk Love (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – Punch Drunk Love (2015)