Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art – Introduction

While we install the Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition, which opens on July 31, we share with you the catalogue introduction by the NGJ ED, Veerle Poupeye, as one of several posts on this project:

The city of Kingston is, in many ways, the crucible in which modern Jamaican culture is forged and it does no injustice to the cultural contributions of other parts of Jamaica, or the Jamaican Diaspora, to recognize its seminal role. Kingston is after all the birthplace of reggae, which has given Jamaica its global cultural visibility. By virtue of being Jamaica’s capital and largest population centre, Kingston is home to major cultural institutions and organizations, public and private, and generally provides a social and economic environment in which the arts can thrive. Given the fraught social dynamics that have shaped Kingston, the city also created an environment in which the arts had to thrive, as a key part of the population’s survival strategies.

This exhibition is our contribution to the conversation about Kingston as a Creative City – a UNESCO designation the city received in 2015 for its role in music – but presented from the perspective of the visual arts. The initial exhibition brief was to explore the role of Kingston in the development of Jamaican art and conversely, to explore the role, actual and potential, of art in the development of Kingston. The exhibition was assigned to Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson, as her first solo-curated exhibition, and we could think of no one better, given her previous research, curatorial work, and publication on street art. We soon realized however that what we had originally planned was too big a subject for a single exhibition and we decided that the present exhibition would be the first of a two-part exhibition series, with the second part, which will presented in 2017, focusing on the built environment and the role of art in urban development and renewal.

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Last Sundays of July 31 to feature “Kingston” exhibition and music by Jason Worton

Last Sundays - July 31,2016 (rgb)-01

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for July 31, 2016, will feature the soft launch of the Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition and a musical performance by Jason Worton.

Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art is the first instalment of a two-part exhibition series that explores the role of Kingston in the development of Jamaican art and, conversely, the actual and potential role of art in the development of the city of Kingston. Inspired by Kingston’s recent UNESCO designation as a Creative City of Music, the exhibition makes the case that Kingston has been the crucible for many other aspects of Jamaican culture, such as the visual arts. Featuring works of art from the late 17th century to the present as well as documentary photographs, the exhibition looks at how Jamaica’s turbulent but culturally fertile capital city has generated circumstances and opportunities that have propelled the development of Jamaican art, from the natural resources to the economic activities and institutions. The exhibition also explores how artists have been inspired in their work by the events, personalities and tales that have defined life in the city, starting with the 1692 Port Royal earthquake. Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art is curated by National Gallery Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson and continues until October 30, 2016.

Scene on harbour street- Sidney McLaren

Sidney McLaren – Scene on Harbour Street (1972), Collection: NGJ

Jason Lee Worton, Jamaican songwriter and musician, spent the last few years touring with Reggae Revival Act Protoje and the Indiggnation, while making a name for himself as an eclectic member of the Reggae scene. Working as a journeyman multi-instrumentalist, he has backed many current and past reggae stars, earning the nickname the “Jamaican Jimi Hendrix.” As the leader of his own band, Worton has appeared at prestigious events such as the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, and been a mainstay at small local venues such as Jamnesia and the Red Bones Blues Cafe. He also plays frequently for yoga studios and events in the growing Jamaican yoga community. He has now returned to focusing on his solo project, many of his songs centring around his “DubRock Reggae” sound. He also delves into acoustic material and eastern inspired meditational music. Worton continues to explore musical styles and instruments, and is an avid surfer, yogi, and farmer/apiarist.

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Jason Lee Worton

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, July 31, 2016 and the programme will start at 1:30 pm, with a curatorial introduction to the exhibition and the musical performance of Jason Worton. As is customary, admission will be free and there will also be free tours of the Kingston exhibition, but contributions to the National Gallery’s donations box are always appreciated. The National Gallery gift and coffee shops will be open for business and proceeds from these ventures help to fund programmes such as Last Sundays and exhibitions such as Kingston.

NGJ to Host Second Edition of WRITIVITY Workshop

Writivity 2  (1)-1

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is proud to announce that it will be holding the second edition of its workshop programme, WRITIVITY, which begins on Monday, August 8 and will continue until Friday, August 12, 2016. Inaugurated last year, the WRITIVTY workshop is designed for grade 10 and 11 students, who are preparing to sit Visual Arts examinations for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). The workshop is coordinated by the NGJ’s Education Department and forms part of the Gallery’s summer programme schedule.

The main goal of WRITIVITY is to assist students with the development of a visual arts reflective journal, which is a key component of CSEC’s School Based Assessment (SBA) submission. By participating in WRITIVITY, students will be taught how to properly prepare entries for the journal, analyze art pieces and conduct art related research, within sessions utilize the NGJ’s art collection and document resources.

All activities for the WRITIVITY will be held at the National Gallery of Jamaica from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Persons interested in the workshop should contact the NGJ in order to register. The cost of registration is one thousand dollars ($1000) and due to limited space, applicants are being encouraged to register early. For additional information, kindly contact the National Gallery’s Education Department at 922-1561 / 3 (Lime landline), or 618-0654 / 5 (Digicel fixed line). Emailed queries should be sent to info@natgalja.org.jm.

Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist Opens on July 24

National Gallery West

Michael Lester Invitation 3.5x8-01
The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist exhibition, which will open at National Gallery West at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre on Sunday, July 24.
The exhibition comprises work by the Polish-born artist Michael Lester, who lived and worked in Montego Bay from 1953 until his death in 1972. He made the city, its people and its environs his main subject, in lyrical expressionist paintings that celebrated the beauty and unique character of Jamaica. Lester, whose birth name was Leszczynski, was a popular figure in the Montego Bay community and along with his wife Peggy ran the Lester Gallery, one of the first art galleries in the city. His work was supported by local art lovers and tourist visitors alike and is represented in many private, corporate and public collections, including the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica. The…

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Panel Discussion and Twitter Chat: Digital Art- Potential and Possibilities

Panel Discussion - June-01

The closing event for the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Digital exhibition will be a panel discussion and Twitter chat on the possibilities and potential of digital art and its role in redefining contemporary art. This panel discussion will be held at the National Gallery on Saturday, July 2, 2016, starting at 1 pm and will feature four digital artists, Corretta Singer, David Gumbs, Shane McHugh and Danielle Russell. The latter three are are represented in the Digital exhibition.

The panel discussion will be organized around four major discussion points:

  1. What Makes Digital Art ART? – an exploration of definitions, understandings, commonalities and peculiarities of digital art.
  2. The Challenge of New Media –  a discussion of how material value is treated in or can be ascribed to digital artworks; what are the conventional expectations of the ‘art object’ and how do the media used for digital art challenge these expectations?
  3. Exposure, Accessibility and Audience Reach – Does digital art afford greater/lesser potential for the aforementioned for the artists/designers as well as the audience? What are the ramifications concerning copyright and other legal protection for the creators of digital artwork?
  4. Rethinking Patronage – to what extent can the conventions of collecting artwork be applied to digital art? Is there a possibility that the traditional art collector may become marginalized as more artists produce in this way or can the rise in prevalence of digital artwork provide more diverse ways of encouraging varieties of patronage?

The panel discussion will be accompanied by a Twitter chat for members of the audience and persons who are not able to come to the gallery for the event, including some of the artists in the Digital exhibition. All that is required is that they follow the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Twitter account, @natgalleryja and include #NGJDigital in their comments or questions. Participants in the Twitter chat can begin tweeting by 12 noon on the day.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have a final opportunity to view the Digital exhibition.

Last Sundays, June 26, 2016/KOTE event – feat. Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and David Gumbs

June 2016 Last Sundays (updated 2)

The National Gallery of Jamaica is presenting a special edition of its Last Sundays on June 26, 2016, on the occasion of the 2016 Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) urban arts festival. The programme features music by Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and, in collaboration with New Local Space (NLS), there will be an interactive video performance by the Martinique-based artist David Gumbs. There will also be opportunity to tour the current exhibition, Digital, and to view the permanent exhibitions.

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