Jamaica Independence Day 2020

Gaston Tabois – Road Menders (1956), Collection: NGJ

The painting Road Menders, by Jamaican Intuitive Gaston Tabois (1924 – 2012), was created in 1956, six years before Jamaica achieved political Independence in 1962. It depicts a group of labourers in the process of building a road. Taking place within an idyllic tropical scene, women and men work together to ‘dig up’ the ground, lay aggregate and pour water. As they work, a steam roller operator paves the areas they had previously completed. In the background, left-hand side of the composition, another woman sits on the ground with a fire going under a vessel, perhaps cooking in preparation for when the workers take their break. 

Despite the fact that Road Menders preceded 1962, its depictions symbolize major themes of Jamaican Independence, which have been used to enrich our contemporary understanding of what becoming a nation may have meant for Jamaicans, such as the ones Tabois portrayed.  These include but are not limited to, the importance of our communities as a part of social, infrastructural and economic development, and also critically, of self-determination. It is the fight for this right that helped Jamaica to achieve self-governance in 1944, a celebration of which Tabois may have considered for this painted scene. It was also the continued advocacy for that right by Jamaicans that helped to establish the new nation of Jamaica on August 6, 1962. 

As we reflect on the circumstances surrounding Jamaica’s first national achievement and the progressions we have made since, let us remember that the journey of nationhood will always be ongoing, transitioning from one generation of citizens to the next. As the current generation of Jamaican people, let us remember that challenges overcome will yield the fruits of resilience, unity and insight for a greater and prosperous future. 

Happy Independence Day, Jamaica!

Emancipation Day Message 2020

David Lucas (1802 -1881) after Alexander Villiers Rippingille (c. 1790 – 1859) The First of August, 1834

The mezzotint The First of August was originally published in London to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. It depicts a recently emancipated family with the father triumphantly raising his hands to the sky in a gesture of freedom. He stands on a whip (the symbol of the cruelty and oppression of enslavement), his children bury the shackles which once restrained him and his wife holds their youngest child who will never know slavery aloft. The work contains all the signifiers of freedom and was meant to wordlessly communicate the ethos of that moment in colonial history. 

The 1st of August is an auspicious date in Jamaican history. It was on this day in 1834 that the Emancipation Proclamation was read in King’s Square Spanish Town; marking the abolition of the institution of slavery in the British Colony of Jamaica. The road to this event was a long one punctuated by the work of Abolitionists, the increased agitations of the enslaved for freedom – most famous among them Tacky’s 1760 revolt and Sam Sharpe’s 1830 Christmas Rebellion – as well as the continued reverberations of the successful revolution in the island of St Domingue (renamed Haiti and the Dominican Republic). 

This was not the end of the struggle however, as the formerly enslaved were then placed under a system of “Apprenticeship” which saw many of them, without viable options for making their livelihoods, maintaining their ties with the same plantations they had been “freed” from.  

It was exactly four years later on August 1st 1838 that “Full-Freedom” was granted to the black populace of Jamaica. As the struggle against the forces of imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy moved into the 20th Century, the names Marcus Garvey, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante were among the most prominent voices that helped to move the nation towards Independence and self-governance.  

As we reflect on the journey that has brought us to 2020, the unforeseen circumstances we have weathered and the new challenges ahead; let us focus on the strength, commitment and resilience of our ancestors that have brought us this far as we chart our path in the brave new world ahead. 

Happy Emancipation Day Jamaica!

Virtual Last Sundays ft. Children of Babylon

Last Sundays Flyer

This July 26, 2020, the National Gallery of Jamaica will once again be hosting its virtual Last Sundays programme on our YouTube channel. We will be screening Children of Babylon which will be released online at 1:30pm, followed by a live Q&A on YouTube discussion at 3:45pm with production team member Cheryl Ryman.

Reggae Artist Bob Andy
Reggae Artist Bob Andy

A Jamaican made film, Children of Babylon is about life, love and tragedy. It explores Jamaica as a metaphorical Babylon that has more to it than the standard global perceptions of the Rastaman, Rum, Reggae and Ganja. The story follows a cast of characters from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

“The vortex is Penny, a young university graduate student; Rick – an artist; Luke – a “dreadlocks” farmhand; Dorcas – the housekeeper and Laura – the wealthy American owner of the plantation and greathouse, which silently represents the proverbial “house divided against itself”.

(l) Cinematographer: Franklyn "Chappie" St. Juste, (c) Richard Lannaman, (r) Director: Lennie Little-White
(l) Cinematographer: Franklyn “Chappie” St. Juste, (c) Richard Lannaman, (r) Director: Lennie Little-White

The film was directed by Lennie Little-White, with Franklyn “Chappie” St. Juste as the cinematographer. Among the cast are the recently deceased reggae artist Bob Andy as well as Tobi Phillips, Don Parchment, Leonie Forbes and Elizabeth De Lisser.

Parental Advisory: This film contains explicit themes considered inappropriate for viewers under the age of 17.

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Writivity Essentials #3: Art Analysis for the Reflective Journal (Pt. 2)

In Part One, we covered five key activities that you (the student) must do before you begin an Art Analysis. At the end of Part Two, you should be able to use an artwork to generate ‘analytical’ information for the following areas: 

  1. Description
  2. Analysis
  3. Evaluation

Please be reminded, that you must always seek guidance from your Teacher. She or He can give advice on how much to write, and help you to choose which pieces of information gathered from your observation, are the most important to write on.  Also remember, that an art analysis is your informed opinion, therefore you must avoid using someone else’s thoughts; rely on your own thoughts as well as use your own words.

The writings for a Description, an Analysis and an Evaluation of an artwork should be no more than one paragraph for each. Each section functions within your Reflective Journal in the following ways:

  1. DESCRIPTION

This section identifies the title of the artwork, who made it, when it was made and what materials were used to create it. The Description also gives information about the physical appearance of the artwork and the images that are depicted in it.

  1. ANALYSIS

This section explores the finer details of the artwork including the identification of techniques used in the artwork, evidence of art elements and principles and the effects that they produce in the overall composition.

  1. EVALUATION 

This section explores the value of the artwork to your chosen theme and your understanding of the associated expressive form. A key question to be answered in this section is: what makes this artwork important to your CSEC Visual Arts research and the development of your student work?

For a demonstration on how to generate information for each section, you can watch the video below:

So let us quickly recap the main points for making an Art Analysis for the Reflective Journal:

  1. An Art Analysis is a detailed examination of the qualities and features of an artwork, in order to know more about it.
  2. The key activities needed to prepare for doing an Art Analysis are:
    • Selecting the artwork
    • Setting time for observation
    • Choosing a method of documentation 
    • Refreshing your knowledge of art terms 
    • Using these words to draft sentences and paragraphs for the Reflective Journal
  1. You can organize and write the information you have collected from doing the Art Analysis into three sections:
    1. Description
    2. Analysis
    3. Evaluation

Each section only needs to be one (1) paragraph in length.

This brings us to the end of “Art Analysis for the Reflective Journal” and of the Writivity Essentials series. We sincerely hope that the information presented was beneficial to those teaching and pursuing studies for CSEC Visual Arts. Please remember to keep up with us by subscribing to all our platforms on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter and be sure to also activate the notification features so you will always be in the know when it comes to the NGJ.

Writivity Essentials #3: Art Analysis for the Reflective Journal (Pt. 1)

Welcome CSEC Visual Arts teachers and students to the final installment of the Writivity Essentials series. Writivity Essentials #2 introduced the Simple Research Process (SRP) and its application to research for the Reflective Journal. Writivity Essentials #3 is a two-part article, focused on developing the Art Analysis. At the end of Part One, you should become familiar with five (5) key preparation activities before you finalize your analyses.

PART ONE – GETTING READY

Generally, an analysis (singular) is a detailed examination of something to gain a better understanding of it. Analyses (plural) can be expressed verbally or in writing. When one analyses artwork, it entails making a detailed examination of its qualities, which can include physical features as well as symbolisms and conceptual value. CSEC Visual Arts students are required to include in the Reflective Journal, written art analyses of your artwork and the works of the artists you choose. As this may be the first time that you will be making art analyses, it is strongly recommended that you do it in consultation with your teacher, who will offer valuable guidance for this process. As every art analysis is unique to a person’s point of view, art analyses are used by your teacher and the examiners to judge how well you can develop an informed opinion about an artwork.

Before you begin to analyse, there are five (5) preparatory activities you must do:

1. SELECT THE ARTWORK

This can be any suitable example of the Expressive Forms you have chosen. You can view artwork either as physical objects or as photographic reproductions in digital images or print. As a quick reminder, Expressive Forms for CSEC Visual Arts are:

  • Drawing
  • Painting and Mixed Media
  • Graphic and Communication Design
  • Printmaking
  • Textile Design and Manipulation
  • Sculpture and Ceramics
  • Leather Craft
  • Fibre and Decorative Arts

2. SET TIME FOR OBSERVATION

Observation is your ability to closely examine or inspect the artwork. To make good observations, you spend time in active looking in order to identify various types of details in the artwork that a short glance will miss. The time you take to view an artwork should be no shorter than 30 minutes.  Artwork can be viewed in two key ways:

  • Artwork can be viewed as a physical object on display, as would be seen in a museum (like the NGJ), at an art gallery or even in someone’s home. If you are looking at the artwork as a physical object on display, make sure that:
    • You are viewing it in a well-lit environment.
    • You have permission from the owner of the artwork to move closer to it. 
  • Artwork can also be viewed as a photographic reproduction, which you can find as either a printed (eg. found in books, magazines and pamphlets) or digital image. Please note that digital images must be viewed using an electronic device with a display screen. The more commonly used ones are computers, tablets, smart phones and most digital cameras. If you are looking at the artwork as a photographic reproduction, make sure that:
    • For books and other print documents like magazines, you try using a magnifying glass or sheet to make some details bigger and easier to see. If you want to take pictures, make sure you seek permission before doing so.
    • For digital images viewed on an electronic device, make sure that you use an image viewing app that has a ‘Zoom’ feature that can also magnify details. 

3. CHOOSE A METHOD OF DOCUMENTATION

This is the method or process you will choose to record your observations and thoughts about the artwork. Two common ways that persons can document from observation is to:

  • Write notes in a notebook or do so electronically, using note-taking apps that you can use on a smart phone or tablet.
  • Record voice notes, using either a sound recording device or an app that you can download to your smart phone or tablet.

4. REFRESH YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF ART TERMS 

These are words that identify or describe expressive forms, techniques, art materials, as well as elements and principles of art. Examples of some art terms are “painting”, “mixed media”, “textile design”, “green”, “tones”, “carving”, “emphasis”, “line”, “proportion”, “harmony”, among many others. Ensure that you know well the terms that are relevant to your research and upcoming analysis.  For example, the terms relevant to an example of Graphic and Communication Design could be “layout”, “dimension”, “illustration” or “font styles”.

5. USE THESE WORDS TO DRAFT SENTENCES AND PARAGRAPHS

Once you have the Art Terms you need to know, use them to create sentences and paragraphs that test how well you can communicate the information you know and understand about an artwork. For example, please spend a few moments looking at the photographic reproduction of a painting below:

Osmond Watson – Jah Lives (1984), Collection: NGJ

Using information gathered from research and observation, one can use art terms to create a description of the artwork. This is demonstrated in the following sentence (please note that the art terms used in the sentence below are in bold and underlined):

Once you have completed all these activities, then you will be ready to begin developing your ART ANALYSES. 

Part Two of this article will focus on a demonstration of the process of Art Analysis.

Virtual Last Sundays to ft. Emily Ruth and Evad Campbell

On Sunday June 28, 2020, the National Gallery of Jamaica will once again present its virtual Last Sundays programme on our YouTube channel and Instagram account. This second video in our online series will premiere at 1:30pm.

This month we will be featuring musical performances by Emily Ruth and Evad Campbell.  The programme will include brief interviews from the opening of our current Jamaica Jamaica! exhibition. Originally launched at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2017,  the exhibition explores the origins of Jamaican music, its development and its rise to international acclaim. 

Born in Manchester, Jamaica, Emily Ruth comes from an artistic family and had developed a love for the performing arts at an early age. Having devoted much of her life to music and dance, Emily went on to complete a Master’s degree in Applied Music Psychology at Roehampton University in London. Her main focus is teaching piano, cello and group music for young children at The Music House and creating music programmes for individuals with developmental challenges. She is currently a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica (POJ) as the principal cellist; is the choir director and a pianist at Hope United Church and plays for functions across the island.

Evad Campbell is a keyboardist, musical director, arranger and soundtrack producer born and raised in Kingston. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA., and recently received the Berklee Achievement Scholarship Award which recognizes students who have demonstrated Academic, personal and professional success while at the college. During school breaks, he returns to Jamaica and works with groups such as the Ashe Company, UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra, Bethel Steel Orchestra and his childhood music school, The Music House

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