National Biennial 2012: A Perspective from a Participating Artist, Charles Campbell

The following remarks were delivered by Charles Campbell at the opening function of the 2012 National Biennial. Charles was invited to speak to provide a perspective from a participating artist.


Ebony G. Patterson – Bush Cockerell “live sculpture” performance, pre-twentieth century galleries, NGJ, at the 2012 National Biennial opening – photo courtesy of Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger

“Welcome artists and art lovers. Welcome also to those dragged along reluctantly by their spouses. Welcome to residents of downtown and uptown Kingston and to those who’ve travelled from farther a-field. Welcome to the parents who’ve found yourselves in the unenviable position of having raised an aspiring artist. Especially welcome to those who can’t wait for the speeches to be over so they can look at some art. I promise to keep my comments brief.

At the exhibition opening - photo courtesy of Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger

At the exhibition opening – photo courtesy of Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger

Most of you are here as viewers and patrons of art. It’s my hope to give you a glimpse of what this exhibition might mean to the artists involved. I was first included in the National exhibition (then an annual event) in 1994 a year after graduating art school and shortly after my return to Jamaica. To this day it remains one of the major landmarks of my career. As a young artist there is no shortage of voices advising you of the folly of your chosen path but precious few encouraging you to go on. Getting that first acceptance letter from the National Gallery was undoubtedly one of the strongest and clearest of those encouraging voices.

Elliott, Michael - Yellow Cake_ Crossfire

Michael Elliott – Yellow Cake: Crossfire, acrylic on canvas, 60.9 x 78.7 cm

Of course it was no guarantee that I wouldn’t die starving in a garret with one ear only to have my work sell for millions after my death, Thank you mum, but being accepted by my peers as a peer bolstered my confidence and made a future as an artist seem possible.

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Tribute to Petrine Archer-Straw (1956-2012)

PPetrine Archer_From the magic Carpet Series

Petrine Archer-Straw – From the Magic Carpet Series (1987), Collection: NGJ, The Guy McIntosh Donation

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of Dr Petrine Archer-Straw, Jamaican art historian, curator, critic and educator. Dr Archer-Straw was a past Board and and a past staff member of the National Gallery.

Petrine Archer-Straw was born in Birmingham, England, to Jamaican parents, and her family moved back to Jamaica in the early 1970s. A graduate of the University of the West Indies-Mona and the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College), she joined the Education Department staff of the National Gallery in 1983 and thus started what would become a distinguished international career as an art historian and curator.  Petrine Archer-Straw was instrumental in developing the Education department’s lecture, panel discussion and film screening programmes and her input helped to turn the department into a lively center for discussion and research. One of her key contributions was a series of lectures on masterpieces from the National Gallery collection, such as Barrington Watson’s Mother and Child and Christopher Gonzales’ Homage to Bob Marley, which derived from her extensive research on these works of art, the artists, and their context.

PArcherStraw_Annual National opening_1998

Petrine Archer-Straw at a National Gallery function, circa 1997

After completing an M.Phil. in History at the University of the West Indies, which she did while working at the National Gallery, Petrine Archer-Straw continued her post-graduate studies in Art History at the prestigious Courtauld Institute, University of London, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1995. She was also a certified appraiser (New York University, 2010) and an Associate of the Appraisers Association of America. Continue reading