Natural Histories: Everald Brown

Everald Brown - Cotton Duppy Tree (1994), mixed media on board, Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

Everald Brown – Cotton Duppy Tree (1994), mixed media on board, Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

The work of self-taught painter and sculptor Everald Brown is best understood in the context of religious Rastafari and African-Jamaican spirituality. Like many other religious Rastafarians, Brother Brown was attracted to the teachings and ritual practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and in the early 1960s established the Assembly of the Living, a self-styled mission of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which was located at 82 ½ Spanish Town Road. The beliefs, ritual practices and symbols of Brother Brown and his church community were however far from “orthodox’” and freely combined elements of religious Rastafari, Freemasonry, Kumina, Revival, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.

This eclectic spirituality is evident throughout Everald Brown’s artistic work, most obviously in those works that depict his own ritual practices and mystical symbols but it is also implied in his landscapes and his depictions of rocks and vegetation. In these works, nature is celebrated for its bountifulness to humankind, as the material incarnation of the divine. Brother Brown’s preoccupation with this theme became more pronounced after he moved his family to Murray Mountain, in the hills of St Ann in 1973. Inspired by the grandiose vistas and suggestive erosions and vegetation of the limestone landscape of central Jamaica, his mystical imagination took full flight, leading to paintings such as Bush Have Ears (1976) that reflect a vision of nature and the land in which everything is imbued with spiritual meaning and ancient truths, to be revealed by the artist-mystic. Brown’s “natural mysticism” is also evident in the later Cotton Duppy Tree (1994), although the ghostly cotton tree in this work is more obviously linked to Jamaican popular culture, in which the cotton tree is seen as a dwelling space for spirits and an “axis mundi” which links the earthly and spiritual realms.

Everald Brown - Bush Have Ears (1976), oil on canvas, 69 x 94.5 cm, Collection: NGJ

Everald Brown – Bush Have Ears (1976), oil on canvas, 69 x 94.5 cm, Collection: NGJ

VP

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Natural Histories: Everald Brown

  1. Hi Bernadette Do you know Everald Brown’s work? Jean

    On Fri, May 17, 2013 at 10:27 PM, National Gallery of Jamaica Blog wrote:

    > ** > nationalgalleryofjamaica posted: ” The work of self-taught painter and > sculptor Everald Brown is best understood in the context of religious > Rastafari and African-Jamaican spirituality. Like many other religious > Rastafarians, Brother Brown was attracted to the teachings and ritual > practi”

  2. Reblogged this on Petchary's Blog and commented:
    Everald Brown’s earthy, spiritual paintings, binding landscapes and humans together, have always been inspiring to me. Many years ago, we met him at the Harmony Hall art gallery, in St. Ann, Jamaica. He and his family settled down on the lawn and began drumming. Our son, quite small at the time, was fascinated, and they gave him a small drum to play on. Precious memory. Harmony Hall, an attractive restored 19th century manse owned by Annabella and Peter Proudlock, has over the years encouraged and brought to prominence a number of self-taught or “Intuitive” artists such as Brother Brown, many of them rural-based. You can find more examples on their website and elsewhere. We are lucky to own a few of these paintings; they enrich our lives. Harmony Hall is currently not holding any exhibitions due to Annabella’s illness; I am wishing for her a speedy recovery. NOTE: I encountered a cotton “duppy tree” in St. Thomas recently. These huge, magnificent trees are associated with duppies (ghosts) and are often hundreds of years old – regarded with awe by many Jamaicans, and associated with the old African magic/religious beliefs of Myal. GOOD magic, that is.

  3. Pingback: Natural Histories: Everald Brown | Repeating Islands

  4. Pingback: Natural Histories: A Note on Cotton Trees and Jamaican Art | National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

  5. Pingback: Introducing Countryman (Dir: Dickie Jobson, 1982) | National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s