Further to our tribute to Prof. the Hon. Barrington Watson, O.J., who passed away on Tuesday, January 26, we have mounted a special display of some of Barrington’s key works from our collections, namely: Mother and Child (1958-59), Self-Portrait (1962), Barbara (1962), Dancer at Rest (c1962), Washer Women (1966), Conversation (1981) and Samantha’s World (1962). Works by Barrington from our collections can also be seen in the A.D. Scott Galleries, which presently feature his Portrait of A.D. Scott (1970) and Michael and Fidel (1977), both from the A.D. Scott Collection, and in the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition, which features Triangle (1972, A.D. Scott Collection), Athlete’s Nightmare II (1962, A.D. Scott Collection), Portrait of the Rt. Hon. Michael Manley (1975), and Fishing Village (1996, Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection).
The National Gallery of Jamaica is deeply saddened by the news that Jamaica master artist Professor the Honourable Barrington Watson, O.J., has passed away yesterday, January 26, at age eighty-five.
Barrington Watson – or Barrington, as he is popularly known – was born in Hanover, Jamaica, in 1931. He was educated at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London and attended several other major European art academies, including the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. He returned to Jamaica in 1961 and quickly rose to prominence as a major artist in post-Independence Jamaica. Along with Eugene Hyde and Karl Parboosingh, he established the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association in 1964 and he was from 1962 to 1966 the first Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), where he introduced the full-time diploma programme. He subsequently also acted as a visiting Professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Barrington chaired the Bank of Jamaica art collection in the mid-1970s and operated several art galleries: Gallery Barrington, which has existed in several incarnations since 1974, and the Contemporary Art Centre, which was active from 1985 to 1998. His home in the parish of St Thomas, Orange Park, is recognized as a heritage site. It is part of a former coffee plantation and it has since he bought the property in 1968, served as the location of his main studio and a meeting place for artists and art lovers. Barrington left Orange Park to the Nation in 1994.
Essentially an academic realist, Barrington explored a wide range of themes and genres in his work, including history painting, genre, portraits and self-portraits, nudes, erotica, the landscape and the still life, ranging from the intimate to the epic and all interpreted with his unique painterly sensibility. Barrington insisted on being recognized as an artist first and as a Jamaican artist second but most of his paintings were inspired by Jamaica and its people and he produced some of the most iconic images in Jamaican art history, such as Mother and Child (1958-59) and Conversation (1981) in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection. Although he is best known as a painter, Barrington was also an accomplished draughtsman and printmaker.
Barrington executed several major commissions, including the mural The Garden Party (1975) and the installation Trust (1975, with Cecil Baugh) at the Bank of Jamaica, and the mural Our Heritage (1974) at Olympia in Kingston. He executed many official portraits, including those of past Prime Ministers of Jamaica, of Martin Luther King (1970) at Spelman College, and of former Commonwealth Secretary-General and UWI Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal at the University of the West Indies – Mona (1992) and Marlborough House in London (1995). His work is well represented in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection, with masterworks such as Mother and Child (1958-59), Washerwomen (1966), Athlete’s Nightmare II (1966), Conversation (1981) and Fishing Village (1996), and he is featured in many other public, corporate and private collections in Jamaica and internationally.
Barrington Watson received many awards and accolades during his lifetime. These include the national orders, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, in 1984, the Order of Jamaica in 2006, and the Institute of Jamaica’s Gold Musgrave Medal in 2000. The National Gallery of Jamaica honoured Barrington with a major retrospective in 2012, which was curated by the then Chief Curator Dr David Boxer and guest curator Claudia Hucke and presented as part of the National Gallery’s Jamaica 50 programme.
The National Gallery’s Chairman, Mr Peter Reid, lauded Barrington for his outstanding contribution to the development of Jamaican art, as an eminent artist and art educator and as a role model to many artists in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the African diaspora. He stated “Barrington is a true national icon and we will treasure his artistic legacy for many generations to come.” The National Gallery’s Executive Director Dr Veerle Poupeye added: “Barrington Watson was a defining figure in post-Independence Jamaican art and his work reflects the spirit and imagination of Independent Jamaica. He was instrumental in the professionalization of the Jamaican art world and an outspoken and influential voice in the development of modern art in Jamaica.” Barrington Watson served on the National Gallery Board for several years.
The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica pay tribute to Barrington Watson, as one of Jamaica’s greats, and extend their heartfelt condolences to his wife Doreen, his children Janice, Raymond, Basil, Bright and Shauna-Kay and his other family members and friends.
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sunday programme for January 2016 is scheduled for Sunday, January 31, 2016, from 11 am to 4 pm.
Visitors will have the opportunity to view the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition which opened in December. The exhibition explores the various ways in which concepts of masculinity have been represented and articulated in Jamaican art. The exhibition, which was curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features works of art from the colonial era up to the present and in a variety of media, by Isaac Mendes Belisario, Harry Johnston, Edna Manley, Barrington Watson, Archie Lindo, Marcia Biggs, Leasho Johnson, Phillip Thomas, Peter-Dean Rickards and many others. Also on view is a selection of Recent Acquisitions from the last few years and most sections of the permanent exhibitions will also be open, providing a wide-ranging overview of Jamaica’s artistic and cultural history.
The National Gallery is pleased to welcome another emerging young songstress to its Last Sundays programme. Shenae Amoye Wright, who is better known as Shae, started her musical journey at the tender age of 6 singing in church. Since then she has grown musically and since 2011, has found a creative outlet performing background vocals for reggae artists such as Junior Kelly, Cocoa Tea and now performs regularly on tour with Protoje and Indiggnation. Her very own blend of soulful reggae music can be found in her recently released a single Give Love a Try and the mix of covers and original music she will perform on January 31. Shae will soon be launching her solo career.
Admission on Sunday, January 31 will be free and free guided tours will be offered. The gift and coffee shop will be open for business and contributions to the donations box are welcomed. Revenues from our shops and donations help to fund programmes such as the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition and our Last Sunday programming.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is excited to announce that its premier child art programme, Saturday Art-Time, will be hosting a six-week workshop series for children, entitled The Super Six Workshops. The series will be held at the National Gallery every Saturday from January 30 to March 5, 2016,
Saturday Art-Time – which has been active since 2009 – is one of the National Gallery’s most successful museum education programmes and consists of a range of gallery-based art workshops for children 8 to 15 years old. The programme was designed to foster visual art expressions by children and encourage them to think and speak intelligently and critically about artworks. By utilizing the National Gallery’s permanent collection as a reference point for assignments, the students also learn much about Jamaican visual arts and culture. During its existence, Saturday Art-Time has also created and facilitated opportunities for participating child artists to exhibit their artworks, particularly in the Art’iT exhibition series.
The Super Six Workshops will take place every Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and will focus on one of two exciting topic areas: an Introduction to Basic Printmaking for participants aged 8 to 11 years old and Basic Animation for participants aged 12 to 15 years old. For further information, please contact the National Gallery of Jamaica at 922-1561/3 (Flow landline), or 618-0654/5 (Digicel fixed line). Emailed queries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registrations forms for the workshops can be downloaded here or you can collect them at our offices at 12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston. You can also find and ‘Like’ the National Gallery of Jamaica as well as the NGJ Education Department fan pages on Facebook. See you there!