Last Sundays: Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus Awareness Month_Flyer

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for the month of May will be the last opportunity to view mark The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition. It will also feature a screening of the film The Lupus Life and special musical by performances by Evad Campbell and Roshane Wright.

May is Lupus Awareness Month and as part of its observances the National Gallery in partnership with The Music House, will be screening the short documentary film The Lupus Life. Directed by Kevin Jackson the film will offer our audience a glimpse into the daily struggle with the oftentimes invisible disease lupus. Following the film there will also be musical performances by former and current students of The Music House: Evad Campbell and Roshane Wright.

Born and raised in Kingston, Evad Campbell is a keyboardist, musical director, arranger and soundtrack producer. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, with a goal to contribute to the further development of Jamaica’s musical industry. Campbell returns to Jamaica regularly during his breaks from his studies to work with local groups such as Ashe and the UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra.

Former president and advisor for the RD Drummers, Roshane Wright is a professional percussionist, playing for various artists and performing arts groups such as Jamique Ensemble, Apollo Tafari and L’Acadco: A United Caribbean Dance Force. He has received numerous awards for his drumming and arrangements and is preparing to further his studies at the Humber College in Toronto, Canada.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with the entertainment beginning at 1:30 p.m. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

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In Memoriam Maria Layacona (1926 – 2019)

Maria LaYacona – Image courtesy of Donnette Zacca

The National Gallery of Jamaica received the sad news of the passing of celebrated photojournalist and portrait photographer Maria LaYacona on Sunday April 28, 2019.

Born on November 18, 1926 in Cleveland Ohio to Italian parents, LaYacona first studied photography with her father Mario LaYacona and later trained at the Winona School of Photography in Warsaw Indiana. She went on to work as a photojournalist for LIFE magazine and travelled around the world documenting life in the 1950s for the magazine. She first came to Jamaica in 1955 while on an assignment for LIFE magazine to photograph Australian Cricket team’s first match –and also the first night game – at Sabina Park.  She fell in love with the island and in her own words “felt she had a tremendous future here” and made Jamaica her home until her passing.

She was the official photographer for the National Dance Theatre Company from its inception in 1962 until 1992. From that association, the books Roots and Rhythms and Renewal and Continuity – The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica – 1962–2008 were developed with both books benefitting from the extensive visual repertoire she had developed for the NDTC over the years.

Maria LaYacona – Rex Nettleford (1965/1993), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica

Though known primarily for her beautifully lit black and white photography, she was also a founding member of the Colour Photographic Club of Jamaica in 1964 which became one of the leading promoters and innovators of the art form in the island.  With her black and white photography however, she felt that without the distractions of colour, the beauty of her subjects was more evident to her audience.  LaYacona made quite an impact as a commercial photographer. She was one of the early advocates for the use of Jamaican models in local advertising campaigns for such companies as Berger Paints, Milo and Captain Morgan’s Rum, which led to increased local success for these companies.

Video courtesy of Frame By Frame Productions 

Her commercial work led to portraits and she was known for her sensitive and engaging portraiture which she felt “showed the identities and personalities of her subjects.” She was the professional portraitist for many of Jamaica’s Prime Ministers including Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley and Edward Seaga; her portrait of Prime Minister Michael Manley was also used for the One Thousand Dollar bill. LaYacona also photographed many of Jamaica’s visual artists including David Pottinger, Mallica Kapo Reynolds and Edna Manley and major cultural figures such as Sir Phillip Sherlock, Millie Small and  Paul Campbell, but it was her photographs depicting everyday Jamaicans: fishermen, vendors and children that proved to be her most iconic.

Maria LaYacona – Anthony Simpson, Richard Brown, Jason Clare and Ronald Francis Green Hill Portland (1981)

Her first major exhibition – which featured photographs of the National Dance Theatre Company – was held at Devon House 1972, the same year that she was awarded the Silver Musgrave Award.  Her second major exhibition, a survey of Jamaican portraits, was held at the National Gallery of Jamaica in 1993 (LaYacona would later serve on the National Gallery’s Board of Directors from 1998 to 2004). Her long career of capturing images also led to the production of two collections of her photography Jamaican Portraits and Jamaica Reverie which showcased her enduring passion for the people of Jamaica and its landscape.

The Board of Directors and the staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica wish to extend their sincere condolences to the family, friends and caregivers of Maria LaYacona.

Last Sundays April 28, 2019 to Screen Blowin’ In The Reggae Wind

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for April 28, 2019 will feature a film screening of Blowin’In The Reggae Wind. On view will be The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition, displaying the winner and top 100 entries for the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) and a tribute to Lawrence Edwards.

A perfect complement to our most recent exhibit, the documentary, Blowin’ In The Reggae Wind (French title: Le Souffle Du Reggae) directed by Jérémie Cuvillier and co-written by Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini focuses on the global impact of Reggae music. “This documentary is an immersion into the contemporary Reggae scene, seeking to understand how and with what force this musical style continues to inspire artists around the world. This engaging story will take the audience on a journey from France to Jamaica, to ultimately end in Africa, land of origins.”

Le souffle du Reggae.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with the film screening beginning at 1:30 p.m. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Last Sundays: The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition Reception

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for March 31, 2019 will feature the Pimento Band as well as the winner and top 100 entries for the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) in The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition. There will also be a speech by IRPC founder Maria Papaefstathiou and IRPC board member Carolyn Cooper.

Grand Winner_Vinicio-Sejas-Bolivia

The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition is hosted by the IRPC, which was founded in 2011 by Michael Thompson (1958-2016) and Maria Papaefstathiou. The contest aims to highlight positive Reggae music and the impact it has had around the globe. The long term goal is to create a Kingston based Reggae Hall of Fame museum and performance centre that wil facilitate and celebrate Reggae. In addition to that IRPC aims gain support for the Alpha Boys School, an vocational institution located in Kingston. It was founded in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy. It is geared towards underprivileged youth and has been home to many notable Reggae artists such as Yellowman and Desmond Dekker.

Maria Papaefstathiou (Image courtesy of her website https://www.itsjustme.net/

Born in Athens, Greece, Maria Papaefstathiou is a graphic designer who has been practicing since 1996. Her main focus and research is in poster design. She is the founder and editor of the blog Graphic Art News where she selects high quality international works including designs, illustrations and art to teach and inspire other designers. Graphic Art News has been known to be used an educational tool to many.

Carolyn-Cooper

A Jamaican author and scholar, Prof. Carolyn Cooper is a consultant on culture and development. A woman of many accolades, Cooper received a scholarship to complete her B.A in English at UWI, Mona and fellowships to complete bother M.A and PhD at the University of Toronto. She has authored the books Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large (2004) and Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (1993). She also initiated the International Reggae Studies Centre at UWI.

The reception will feature a special musical performance by the Pimento Band. The band, though only a little over a year old, features musicians with over thirty years of experience in the local and international music scenes. The roster includes Leebert “Gibby” Morrison, bass player on Peter Tosh’s album’s Mama Africa and the Grammy award winning No Nuclear War, Orlando “Lando” Bolt of the Live Wyya Band, and past student of Alpha Boys Everol “Stingwray” Wray who has been featured on the album The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. The bands repertoire ranges from Ska to Reggae to a style they have dubbed progressive Mento.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with the Pimento Band’s performance beginning at 1:30 p.m. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Screening + Artist Talk: The Secret Life of Your Clothes

Secret Life Flyer-01

On Saturday February 23, 2019 the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a film screening of The Secret Life of Your Clothes as part of our programming for Beyond Fashion. Following the screening will be a related artist talk moderated by Assistant Curator and co-curator of the exhibition Shawna-Lee Tai. Participants in the Artist Talk will include Ayana Rivière, who is represented in the exhibition, and Nigerian artist Alao Omotoya.

The documentary The Secret Life of Your Clothes is a Firecrest Films Production for BBC’s “This World”, and is directed by Andy Wells and presented Ade Adepitan. The documentary is about the obroni wawu (secondhand clothing) industry in Ghana and how it has not only turned the clothes donated to charity into a profitable business, but has inversely impacted the traditional clothing industry as well as deeper cultural issues.

Ayana Rivière, born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, has a passion for clothing design. She completed a degree in Criminal Justice from Coppin University and then pursued her love for fashion. She has worked as a wardrobe stylist on numerous music videos, films, commercials and advertising campaigns within Jamaican and the Caribbean such as the [PUMA in Cuba] campaign and Idris Elba’s Yardie. Her piece Ray Ray (2018) in Beyond Fashion speaks closely to the topic of the film in a Jamaican context.

Alao Luqman Omotoya is a Nigerian artist with a BFA in painting from the University of Lagos, an MFA in printmaking from the University of Benin, and is currently doing his PhD there as well. He is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artist (SNA) and a member of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA). He is a Cultural diplomat in Jamaica working with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDC), Ministry of Tourism Jamaica, and currently with Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and Ministry of Culture.

The screening will begin at 1:30pm and entry is free to the public. As always, the Giftshop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Last Sundays February 24, 2019 to feature Tribe Sankofa

Last Sundays_FlyerThe National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for February 24, 2019 will feature Tribe Sankofa as well as tours of our current exhibition, Beyond Fashion. We will also have on display the winner and entries for the International Reggae Poster Competition in The Art of Reggae Exhibition and the five finalists of the Government of Jamaica Houses of Parliament Design Competition.

February marks both Black History and Reggae month. It is a month that acknowledges and honours the achievements of black people throughout history and despite immense racial adversity. It is also a month that celebrates reggae music and it’s contribution to the development of Jamaica, musically, culturally and economically. With this in mind this Last Sundays will feature two new exhibitions.

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The Art of Reggae Exhibition is hosted by the Reggae Poster Contest. The Reggae Poster Contest was founded in 2011 by Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou and aims to highlight reggae around the globe, create a locally based Reggae Hall of Fame museum and gain support for the Alpha Boys School.

IMG_3686The second phase of the Government of Jamaica Houses of Parliament Design Compettition is being hosted at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Patrons may view the proposals, site models and renderings of the top 5 finalists until February 28, 2019. The competition stipulates that at least 50% of each team be of Jamaican heritage or citizenship and, as such, the new House of Parliament will not only be a place where decisions regarding the Jamaican people are made, but a place created by it’s people. There is also a People’s Choice Award where citizens are encouraged to vote on the design of their choice.

8Tribe Sankofa is a performing arts collective formed by Fabian Thomas. It is a vibrant and eclectic group of multi-talented performers who combine their artistry to add an exciting new dimension to the performing arts landscape of locally and internationally. Their niche is “….borrowed and original spoken word/poetry, soulful song-styling uniquely blended with other visual and performing arts”. Tribe Sankofa has shared their unique offerings in diverse spaces including the Poetry Society of Jamaica, Bookophilia, Lignum Vitae Awards, Gungo Walk Alternative Music and Arts Festival, Arts in the Park and the Investiture of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica to name a few. In addition to multiple medals and awards at Tallawah Dramatic Arts Festival and the Jamaica Cultural Development’s Speech and Drama competitions, the collective has also staged its own productions: Black Bodies, A Tribe Ting and their signature annual production Word Soul. This Last Sundays Tribe Sankofa presents BLACKness (an every month thing) ‘A celebration of blackness, spoken, sung and felt’.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with Tribe Sankofa’s performance beginning at 1:30 p.m. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund exhibitions like Beyond Fashion and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.