Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 6: The Awards

Ebony G. Patterson was the winner of the 2014 Aaron Matalon Award. Here is one of her two works in that Biennial, Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds (from Dead Treez), installation view at Devon House

Artists who participate in the Jamaica Biennial qualify for two awards. One is the National Gallery of Jamaica’s own Aaron Matalon Award; the other is the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, which is the private initiative of the New York-based art critic Edward M. Gómez. Both awards will be announced at the main opening function of the Biennial, at the National Gallery of Jamaica, on Sunday, February 26. This opening function starts at 1:30 pm. Edward Gómez will be in attendance to present the Dawn Scott Memorial award.

The Aaron Matalon Award is granted to the artist who, in the opinion of the combined Exhibitions and Acquisitions committees of the National Gallery made the most outstanding contribution to the Biennial. The award is named after the National Gallery’s late Chairman and benefactor, the Hon. Aaron Matalon, O.J. Awardees receive a unique medal, hand-crafted by the noted Jamaican jeweller Carol Campbell, and a monetary award of $ 100,000. Artists who have won the Aaron Matalon Award in the past are: Omari Ra, Renee Cox, Norma Rodney Harrack, Phillip Thomas, Laura Facey, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan and, most recently, Ebony G. Patterson.

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The Hon. Aaron Matalon O.J. and Marjorie Matalon at the NGJ in the company of the Rt. Hon. P.L Patterson, the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, in 1999.

Aaron Matalon, an impassioned philanthropist and supporter of the arts, was not only the National Gallery’s Chairman for many years, but also one of its most generous donors. In 1999, Aaron Matalon and his wife Marjorie presented the National Gallery with its largest and arguably its most significant donation thus far. This gift consisted of 218 items, ranging from rare early maps of Jamaica and the Caribbean, early prints and photographs, and a wide, carefully selected group of modern Jamaican art works that filled many gaps in the National Gallery’s collection. This collection is now known as the Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection and is extensively used in the National Gallery’s temporary and permanent exhibitions.

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Dawn Scott and Edward Gomez in 2006

The Dawn Scott Memorial Award is granted to an artist whose work in the Biennial reflects the inquisitive and innovative spirit, fine craftsmanship and independent thinking that characterised the late Dawn Scott’s approach to art-making. Edward Gómez created the Dawn Scott Memorial Award in 2014 and personally selects the recipient(s). The first award in 2014 was shared between two young artists, Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford. A monetary prize of US$ 500 is attached to the award.

Kimani - Beckford - B.i.B.

Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Kimani Beckford – B.i.B. (2014)

The multifaceted body of work of the influential Jamaican artist, teacher and environmental activist Alison Dawn Scott (1951-2010) encompassed drawing, painting, sculpture, architectural design and sophisticated batik fabric-dyeing techniques. Scott’s art often evoked timely, even controversial social-cultural and political themes. Her ground-breaking mixed-media installation, A Cultural Object (1985), which is now in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s permanent collection, is made from found materials from the street, calling attention to issues of class, race, cultural history and everyday economics with a sense of drama and psychological intensity that challenged a viewer’s sense of reality. It remains an urgent, powerful work of art today. Edward Gómez lived and worked in Jamaica as a cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston in the 1980s and became a close friend of Dawn Scott at that time. Since then, he has maintained close ties to Jamaica and its arts community. He has published numerous articles and essays about Jamaican artists, including the legendary Intuitives, which helped introduce their achievements to broad, international audiences.

Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda - Wholesale Degradables (2014)

Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda – Wholesale Degradables (2014)

2 thoughts on “Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 6: The Awards

  1. Pingback: news: Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 6: The Awards – nublaxity network

  2. I was shocked to learn of Dawn Scott’s death on this site. I was her friend during my years on the UWI campus when she was starting out on her career as an independent-thinking, boundary-pushing artist and person. I thought of her as a renaissance woman – on a visit to her home when she lived near the National Arena and I was in my apt. on Camp Road, I enjoyed her hand-made curry featuring 21 spices that evaporated on your palate like perfume…She had carved a cradle for her clay pipe, and painted a low table with an Eden-like scene in which even the grain of the wood formed a part of the design, and surrounded it with floor cushions in beautiful shades of green and pink (It was the late 1970’s)! She would buy plain white cotton downtown, tye-dye a unique design, and sew up a dashing outfit for a function that evening…but what blew me away were her batik paintings which evoked the monumental style of a Michelangelo, executed through dye and cloth instead of paint and canvas. I remember her two little girls…Dawn had a batik picture of one of her daughters that she would never hang for display, as I would; it was just a lil somethin’ somethin’ that she happened to create in a moment when she had the time. I recall the elation with which she shared that one of her batik paintings (“The Cow”, I believe), was accepted for display by the National Gallery. There was a tiny hole in the fabric that she did not recall being in the work when she handed it over; nevertheless the validation of her work was a very happy time for her. I am glad to see the relationship continued with the National Gallery. Somewhere there is a large work with a young woman reclining on a cot – I was the subject of that work; I always promised myself that I would own a Dawn Scott one day; sadly, our paths diverged and after the 1980’s I only saw her once in the 2000’s on a trip back home. I had a certain awe for the way she struck out for a lifestyle that was so different from her middle-class upbringing…I could not imaging not doing life like everyone else I knew…There she was with her locks up under a large turban, crafting out a living with her two hands. From what I read today, she had achieved the recognition for her unique gifts. I still wonder what the world would have made of her if it learned about her on the multiple media available for world-wide consumption today? She would have blown us all away! Rest In Peace Dawn Scott.

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