“Anything with Nothing: Art from the Streets of Urban Jamaica” Opens at the National Gallery on May 25


Anthony Brown – Janice (photo: Olivia McGilchrist)

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present Anything with Nothing: Art from the Streets of Urban Jamaica, an exhibition of street art from Kingston and environs. The exhibition will open at the National Gallery on May 25 and will remain on view until July 11.

Anything with Nothing, which was curated by National Gallery Chief Curator Charles Campbell and Assistant Curator, Monique Barnett-Davidson, will feature specially commissioned work by ten of Jamaica’s notable street artists, as well as photographic and video documentation of art in inner city communities, the artists and the making of their work. Highlighting phenomena such as memorial murals, the valorization of community and political heroes, and Rastafari-influenced works, the exhibition seeks to recognize these murals as an important artistic and social phenomenon that has a major impact on the visual culture of the island and the communities in which they reside.

Michael Robinson - Selassie (photo: Olivia McGilchrist)

Michael Robinson – Selassie (photo: Olivia McGilchrist)

The artists in the exhibition hail from communities including Matthews Lane, Denham Town, Hannah Town, Waterhouse and Spanish Town and include Kemar Black, Anthony Brown, Danny Coxon, Ricardo Lawrence (Ricky Culture), Cleaver Cunningham, Vermon Grant (Howie), Michael Robinson, Andrew Thomas (D.I.) and T. Earl Witter.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue publication with essays by Charles Campbell, who introduces the exhibition and the artists, and Honor Ford-Smith, who writes about the issues of memory, loss, violence in inner city memorial murals in urban Jamaica and the questions of freedom of speech, human rights and censorship that surround the current Police campaign to remove murals that are deemed to be gang-related. Honor Ford-Smith is a Jamaican actress, playwright, scholar, poet and social activist and she is Associate Professor of Community and Environmental Arts in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto.

The opening function on May 25 coincides with the National Gallery’s Last Sundays programme for the month of May. The Gallery will be open from 11 am to 4 pm and the programme will start at 1:30 pm, with a curatorial introduction by Charles Campbell and Monique Barnett-Davidson, followed by a poetry reading by the newly installed Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Professor Mervyn Morris. There will also be musical performances by the critically acclaimed roots band Pentateuch and the Japanese duo Ackee and Saltfish. Visitors  will also have the opportunity to view the recently opened JAPAN: Kingdom of Characters exhibition as well as the National Gallery’s permanent exhibits.

As is now customary, admission will be free on May 25 but donations are welcome and help to support the National Gallery’s exhibitions and programmes.

5 thoughts on ““Anything with Nothing: Art from the Streets of Urban Jamaica” Opens at the National Gallery on May 25

  1. I am so pleased about this. It’s a long-ignored Jamaican artistic expression. Coincidentally (I didn’t know about this exhibit at the time) I wrote about the obliteration of street art in certain communities by the police on dailyveritas.com. It really concerns me.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Style: Style Week Jamaica, Rockers NYC at Base Kingston, Food Awards & More! - Kingstonstyle

  3. Happy to know about this exhibition, i currently live South Florida and document the street art scene, especially the Wynwood Art District. I heard about this article/exhibition via my mother. Alot of my friends who know of my “hobby” are both amazed and puzzled and are unsure what to make of it. Am happy that Jamaica is embracing the genre as it is a worldwide movement that am sure will take further hold in Jamaica, especially among the younger set. I have always believed that street art would be at home in a county like Jamaica, given all the artistic and creative energy that abounds in the country. This is another dimension that could be embraced and added to our tourism product. A place like downtown (near the waterfront) could easily be used as a foundation to launch a (formal) street art scene in Jamaica. It could also double as mechanism to revitalize the area at minimal cost. Kudos for developing some awareness of the genre to Jamaica, as the everyday nature of street can easily lend itself to being taken for granted and as such not even recognized and/or appreciated.

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