On the afternoon of September 15, 2011 Dwight Larmond, participant and bronze medallist of the 2011 National Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition, a joint project of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and the National Gallery of Jamaica, received the Claro Viewer’s Vote award at the National Gallery. He won the award for his mix-media piece entitled Wi and Dem – a work based on events surrounding the Tivoli incursion of May 2010. Presenting the award was Ms Latoy Williams, Claro Media Manager. Also in attendance to the presentation was Mrs Sana Rose-Savage, representing the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Dr Veerle Poupeye Executive Director of the National Gallery, Dr David Boxer, Chief Curator and Mr O’Neil Lawrence, Assistant Curator.
A regular participant of the National Visual Arts Competition as well as the National Biennial (both of which he began entering in 2008), the confident and driven Dwight Larmond is a self-taught artist with vision of social change through artistic collaboration. This was evident in his 2008 biennial entry Team Roots which was comprised of clays from each of Jamaica’s fourteen parishes. A used car salesman and avid sports enthusiast, Mr. Larmond emphatically states that art is central to his life.
Have a look at this video, recorded at the opening of the exhibition’s traveling showcase at the St Mary Civic Centre on September 27, to get a sense of how viewers have responded to Dwight Larmond’s work:
Mr. Larmond sat down with curatorial assistant Monique Barnett for a brief interview in which he spoke about some of his aspirations as an artist as well as his experiences. Here are excerpts from that interview:
MB: So now, coming down to the reason you have that trophy, Wi and Dem – the conception of the piece. Can you walk me through how that came about?
DL: … I realized that the whole incident that took place, on that May Tivoli incursion as much we tried to put it together, it was always out of control. People were always speaking about it, there were unresolved issues – from different angles from the political side, from the native side. So I said, you know what, let me try to see if I can add my two cents to this as a concerned citizen who was actually visualizing it from my apartment on Red Hills road – the smoke, the fumes going up in the air, I was hearing the echoes from the gunshots…The concerns stayed deep in my head, the picture was really there…I said okay let me sit down and draft something – muscle up the security forces and muscle up the citizens with their concerns – and decided that I could go now and find the pieces , the different elements I would want to use to finish this piece and it just parachuted from there.
MB: One of the things a lot of viewers were impressed with was the amalgamation of the painting and the zinc…How important was it for you to bring that material into that traditional painting?
DL: I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that I am not a trained artist so I’m always exploring and part of my exploration is to find a particular style that you can identify with me. So I think until I can get any two or any three or one hundred collaborations of different things, different materials together, I will always be searching…To honestly answer your question, I don’t think that I really have any fixed reason for using those two pieces or for them to come out like that except we can better identify with the ghetto or with the inner-city from zinc. It draws the viewer more into that ghetto feel or inner-city feel. It does encourage the eyes to want to read what might be said on that piece of zinc, ultimately giving you an effective piece which is what I really wanted.
MB: … Are you involved with any other art activities, for example, you have some artists that like to stick together…Do you have that kind of relationship with others working in the visual arts?
DL: To be honest I try to attend as many art forums as possible. I try to meet who I can meet. Where I’m from in Westmoreland, art isn’t the thing for many different reasons. We don’t hold art festivals there, we are without art galleries…But …I’m very encouraged and I’m very moved towards changing that whole dynamic in my parish. So I’m offering myself as that figure who can get people more interested in art down there because we have at least four high schools there that turns out children who are very artistically inclined but with nowhere to turn.
MB: You made it very clear that art is very central to you and how you think, how you perceive and how you move forward with your life. But there are many that feel that the visual art really doesn’t have a place in terms of the wider scheme of things. How do you feel about that?
DL: I move to rubbish that. For me art is everything. If you walk into a store, the very clothes you wear, the design of anything that you see, the cars you want to own, the buildings that you put up has a fair amount of art in it. So art has to be very, very essential to everybody. I can understand if people might want to turn a blind eye to it because very few artists make themselves available in terms of their achievements to people. You know how we are as human beings. We gravitate towards what we see. So we look at a dancehall artist or a pop artist for example, and we see the returns that come from their discipline. I know that art can take a lot of the [displaced] youths, especially, from the inner-cities. Because I know, I’ve seen where there are a lot of people there from the inner-cities, [and] the country areas are really skilled. So how then, what we use to trap them, to turn their minds to art? I would like to be the person that does that, I think I’m on the road to doing that. With the help, I can change it. I hope I’m not sounding like a politician (laughs).