The Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition opens this Sunday, July 30, and will continue until November 4. This is the first of a series of posts based on the text panels in the exhibition.
The Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition features a generous, near-complete selection from the joint collection of Annabella and Peter Proudlock, which forms the largest part of this exhibition, along with works that were owned by Annabella and her family before her marriage to Peter, and two works that were previously part of these collections but are now owned by others, Annabella’s son Sebastian Ogden and her friend and associate Maxine Walters.
The exhibition provides a vivid picture of the lives, artistic interests, professional and personal relationships, and cultural entrepreneurship of several personalities who have played a vital role in the development of Jamaican art, individually and through Harmony Hall, which has been the premier art gallery and craft centre on the Jamaican North Coast since it opened in 1981. Much of the work in this exhibition was acquired from Harmony Hall exhibitions and a number of works actually depict the Harmony Hall building.
The central personality in the stories told by this exhibition is Annabella Ogden Proudlock, who was the Managing Director of Harmony Hall until she passed away in 2015. Annabella (née McCartney), a successful London – based fashion model, fell in love with Jamaica when she visited for a swimsuit shoot for Silhouette in 1966 and moved to the island that same year. She worked with Operation Friendship, an inner-city charity in Kingston, from 1966 to 1978, and was responsible for that organization’s pioneering and very successful local Christmas card programme, which featured the work of children in the programme and various local artists.
After the death of her first husband, English-born cinematographer, artist, musician and writer David Ogden in 1978, she moved to Ocho Rios in 1979 and started the production of the Annabella Boxes, finely crafted cedar boxes with reproductions of Jamaican art that quickly became a classic in the local craft industry. The following year, she was part of the team that acquired and restored the Harmony Hall building. Annabella oversaw most of the artistic direction at Harmony Hall for nearly twenty-five years and is best known for her close, supportive work with the artists and craft producers who exhibited and sold their work at Harmony Hall, especially the Intuitives. She served on the National Gallery of Jamaica Board for many years, until 2012, and in later life became an artist in her own right, who produced meditative collages from shells and other found sea objects. This exhibition is also our tribute to Annabella.
Annabella and David had two children, Sebastian, who is a graphic designer and advertising executive, and Jessica, who is a fashion designer and textile artist. Peter Proudlock, a chartered accountant, moved to Jamaica from England in 1981 and became a partner in Harmony Hall. He and Annabella got married in 1985 and he continued managing the gallery after she passed away in 2015, until his own death in 2016.
Harmony Hall, which is located near Ocho Rios in Tower Isle, St Mary, was constructed in 1886, as part of a pimento plantation and served as a Methodist manse. It had been modernized and served as a family home in the 20th century until it came on the market in 1979-80. The house was lovingly restored by a team consisting of Annabella, Graham Davis, the architect Ben Eales and the artist and designer Dawn Scott, who designed the fretwork decorations that were based on traditional Jamaican patterns. The building was in 2003 recognized as a National Monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Harmony Hall represents an initiative to bridge the gap that has existed in Jamaica between the local art world and its market, and the tourist art market. As such, it represents a major initiative in the field of cultural tourism in Jamaica. Harmony Hall has exhibited a wide range of artists over the years, including major names in Jamaican art history as well as artists from elsewhere in the Caribbean region and the world. This included an exhibition by the renowned English sculptor Lynn Chadwick in 1984. Harmony Hall is best known for its close association with Intuitive art and its annual Harmony Hall Intuitives exhibitions, which regular featured work by Kapo, Brother Brown, Ras Dizzy, Zion, Woody, Artwell, Sylvester Woods, Evadney Cruickshank and Michael Parchment and brought several new Intuitives to national and international attention. Harmony Hall also organized regular craft markets, the main of which was the annual Easter Craft market, which played an important role in the development and promotion of the local craft industry.
As a collection that was housed in Annabella and Peter Proudlock’s Ocho Rios home, Te Moana, it was also intensely lived with and the exhibition also speaks to this.