His Grace Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and Mrs Sentamu visited the NGJ, and its current Barrington: A Retrospective exhibition on Saturday, January 28. Among the many things they viewed, were a text panel and preparatory drawings for Out of Many One People (1962), a lost painting by Barrington Watson. On the next day, Archbishop Sentamu made reference to the painting as a metaphor for Jamaican society in his sermon at the Webster Memorial Church in Kingston. Archbishop Sentamu’s visit to Jamaica was associated with the Jamaica 50 observations. Below we provide you with further information on Barrington’s Out of Many One People painting.
“Out of Many, One People shows people at a bus stop, waiting to take the bus into the future. There are many people, young and old, middle class and working class, black, white, Indian and Chinese”
– Barrington Watson
Titled using Jamaica’s National Motto, Out of Many One People was done in the year of the island’s independence, 1962 and represented Watson’s visualization of a culturally, socially and racially unified Jamaican populace getting ready to move forward at the end of over 300 years of colonial rule.
Watson used close associates and members of his family as models for the project, including Barbara Lewars (later Manley), Valerie and Raymond Bloomfield, Verona Ashman, Leonard Ferguson, Ras Dizzy as well as his own children Raymond, Jan and Basil and his brother Mel. Sadly, the painting was lost during an exhibition in Berlin.
Some time around 1970, Watson was commissioned by US President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) to do a second version after Johnson had previously seen the original at an exhibition in Chicago in 1963 and met with Watson some time after. This version greatly differed from the first in that instead of a scene at a bus stop, it depicted a scene of boys playing a game of marbles in a school yard. This second version (see below) is now a part of the collection of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.
(Adapted from catalogue essay by Claudia Hucke , “History/Nation Building, Barrington Watson as History Painter.”)