This is, for now, our final post on the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition, which continues until November 4.
Jamaica has a long and rich history of popular and self-taught art but this has not always been fully valued and documented. There have however been several major efforts over the years to recognize the artistic mastery and significance of artists who have come out of this sphere. This started with the recognition of John Dunkley and David Miller Senior and Junior by the nationalist intelligentsia in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1960s, as Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds—a Revivalist bishop — received significant support from the young politician Edward Seaga and Jamaica’s first Director of Tourism, John Pringle. Kapo’s personality and work were, for instance, used in the Tourist Board Board advertising, as part of a campaign to convey that Jamaica was more than just a beach but had a rich and distinctive culture – a campaign which paved the way for later cultural tourism initiatives such as Harmony Hall. The emergence of the Rastafari movement in the 1960s also helped to validate and give visibility to popular cultural production.
The defining moment of what is now labelled as Intuitive art came with the National Gallery of Jamaica’s ground-breaking Intuitive Eye exhibition in 1979,which featured the work of a wide range of self-taught, popular artists such as Dunkley, the Millers and Kapo, as well as several newer exponents. This exhibition was curated by David Boxer, the National Gallery’s Director/Curator at that time, who coined the term “Intuitive,” as an alternative to derogatory terms such as “primitive” and “naïve.” While the National Gallery’s promotion of the Intuitives was not uncontroversial, it was supported by a passionate group of collectors and enthusiasts. This included Annabella Proudlock, who had been friendly with artists such as Kapo since the 1970s, and Harmony Hall, which opened in 1981, quickly became the main private counterpart of the National Gallery in the promotion of the Intuitives.
Harmony Hall is best known, locally and internationally, for its association with Intuitive art, and particularly its Harmony Hall Intuitives exhibitions, which were held annually from 1982 to 2014. Annabella and Peter Proudlock maintained a close, supportive relationship with the Intuitive artists they exhibited over the years. Not surprisingly, the Intuitives are very well represented in their collection, with many of the works acquired from the Harmony Hall Intuitives exhibitions or directly from the artists.
This gallery highlights works by Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Albert Artwell, Allan “Zion” Johnson and Birth “Ras Dizzy” Livingston – all major exponents of Intuitive art. It includes early works by these artists that were acquired before Harmony Hall was established and owned by Annabella, which also illustrates that there was a longer history of association which paved the way for what was later achieved at Harmony Hall.