In Memoriam, NGJ Pays Tribute to Hugh Dunphy (1934-2019)


The National Gallery of Jamaica was saddened to receive news of the passing of gallery owner and art collector Hugh Dunphy on October 31, 2019. Dunphy was the proprietor of the Bolivar Bookshop and Gallery, located in on Grove Road, St. Andrew, Jamaica. 

Born in Hampstead, London, Dunphy joined the British Navy briefly before enrolling at the University of Cambridge hoping to study for a visual arts degree. However, none was offered at the institution at that time and so he took courses in English Literature and Archaeology, as well as minor language studies. After he graduated from Cambridge and had a chance meeting with influential British potter Bernard Leach (mentor to Jamaican master potter Cecil Baugh), Dunphy received a scholarship to go to Japan to study ceramics and batik. There he was introduced to some Japanese masters including ceramist Shōji Hamada and batik artist Minagawa Taizo. Later Dunphy began working as a travelling book sales representative for publishing houses in England, eventually getting a job as an international representative for the Oxford University Press. His travel assignments for Oxford took him to Eastern Europe, Russia, and South America, selling books and promoting to writers and institutions. His work eventually brought him to the Caribbean in the 1950s and after 3 to 4 years, he left Oxford to settle in Jamaica permanently around 1954. 

In the same year he established a bookstore at Tangerine Place, off Halfway Tree Road in 1965, which he named ‘Bolivar’ – inspired by the fervor of newly Independent Jamaica and the legacy of Venezuelan liberator Símon Bolívar. The bookstore specialized in “books on Latin America and the West Indies, Spanish Language, Art and other subjects…” as well as offer publishing services through the Bolivar Press. Additionally, Dunphy began construction on a building at 1D Grove Road, which featured a purpose-built space for an art gallery. The Bolivar Bookstore and Press were relocated to the new facilities in 1966 and the Bolivar Art Gallery was officially established. Dunphy also opened Bolivar Fine Arts at the Westgate Shopping Centre, Montego Bay, which concentrated on retailing and framing rather than hosting exhibitions. Dunphy continued to work as a publishing agent sales representative for other book publishing companies. Shortly after his move to Jamaica, Dunphy also met and later married acclaimed Jamaican musician and cultural specialist V. Ouida Hylton.

Among the oldest commercial art galleries in Jamaica, the Bolivar Gallery was a major hub for a variety of artists, ranging from emerging to highly acclaimed, based locally and overseas. Edna Manley, Albert Huie, Ralph Campbell, Carl Abrahams, David Boxer, Colin Garland, Barrington Watson, Hope Brooks, Carol Crichton and Phillip Thomas are among numerous Jamaican artists who have had solo and group exhibitions at the Bolivar. The art gallery also offered valuation and consultations for established and aspiring private and corporate collectors – Dunphy’s clientele included for instance, the Matalon business family. The Bolivar Gallery was one of the few older galleries that had survived the financial crisis of the early 1990s, which led to the closure of several other art galleries particularly in Kingston and St. Andrew. Due in part to the continuous diversification of the Bolivar’s business offerings, for example the addition of framing services, Dunphy and his wife Ouida further expanded the business to include antique dealership and the sale of imported Oriental furniture and décor, inspired by their many travels to exotic locations like Southeast Asia. His continued activities as a publishing agent for the Cambridge University Press in England and later, McGraw-Hill in the United States, also helped to supplement his art business during the economic downturn. 

Dunphy himself became known as an avid collector of the work of modern Jamaican artists and pre-twentieth century works about Jamaica, developing a moderate but comprehensive private collection. The National Gallery of Jamaica benefitted from his knowledge of lithographic prints, when the institution consulted him during the development of the exhibition Isaac Mendes Belisario, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica (2008). He was also a private lender for that exhibition. Following Ouida’s passing in 2012, the Bolivar continued to be a hub of activity for contemporary art shows, book launches, presentations and other events such as the Kingston on the Edge arts festival. In later years, Dunphy continued to run the Bolivar with the assistance of his second wife, Janet and their staff. 

The NGJ’s Board of Directors, management and staff remembers Hugh Dunphy for his great, gracious and steadfast support of the Jamaican visual arts community, a commitment that has spanned over five decades of his life. As such, the institution extends its deepest condolences and best wishes to his family and friends, during this time of bereavement.

NGJ Summer Exhibition: Jeffrey Grant

Jeffrey Grant

Jeffery Grant - oft Target - NG061

Jeffrey Grant – Soft Target

Jeffery Grant is based in Portland where he works as an Art Education lecturer at College of Agricultural Science and Education (CASE). His work consists of abstract sculptural forms made from wood. He attended the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and attained a BA in Education in 2008.

Jeffery Grant - Twisted Heart - NG063

Jeffrey Grant – Twisted Heart

NGJ Summer Exhibition: Yrneh Gabon

Yrneh Gabon

Yrneh Brown - Black Mexican Story - Artist

Yrneh Gabon – Black Mexican Story

Yrneh Gabon Brown is a New Genre/interdisciplinary media artist. His work deals with sustainable environmental issues in a socio-political and historical context. Gabon Brown is an international artist, based in Los Angeles, who illuminates his subject matter through interdisciplinary visual art and activism (performance art). His extensive travels have helped him to frame his ideas.

Yrneh Gabon Holding My Breath

Yrneh Gabon – Holding My Breath

Gabon conducts relevant research that will inform and shape the aesthetics of the final artistic outcome and activist response. His research questions, informs and analyzes the findings to shape the focus of the work of art, which will symbolize the body of work. The final art image often includes a combination of sculpture, video, photography, painting, performance, and/or installation. Symbolism and the use of metaphors are the foundation of his art practice.

Twitter: @yrnehgabon
Instagram: @yrnehgabon

NGJ Summer Exhibition: Nathan Cunningham

Nathan Cunningham

Nathan Cunningham - Dance with a lady - NG035

Nathan Cunningham – Dance with a lady

Pulling from his life and surroundings Nathan Cunningham creates detailed and colourful drawings that relive past experiences.

Nathan Cunningham - Greatness is what - NG034

Nathan Cunningham – Greatness is what brings all of us together

NGJ Summer Exhibition: Donnette Zacca

Donnette Zacca

Donnette Zacca - Dismantled Thoughts

Donnette Zacca – Dismantled Thoughts

Both pieces address the cosmic reality of the human spirits moving through space at random times within death and insanity.

Without much understanding of our spiritual existence, we assume we occupy the universe after our death or in times of mental instability. The knowledge of our life after death is oft times sought after. The more we understand the more bearable life becomes.

Donnette Zacca - Transitioned

Donnette Zacca – Transitioned – Tribute to David Boxer

In death all our realities are final. Those who are left behind seek to justify who we were. A sanity we all seek.

NGJ Summer Exhibition: Shoshanna Weinberger

Shoshanna Weinberger

Shoshanna Weinberger - Midnight Selfie - Artist.jpg

Shoshanna Weinberger – Midnight Selfies with One Sunset

My work explores the complexity of heritage, assumed norms and confronts the complexities of cultural ambiguity and peripheral identities. The work is rooted in an exploration of my Caribbean-American heritage, the consequential implications and experiences of racial identity, and external perception of racial categorization. Referencing adolescent memory, body image, and our current xenophobic rhetoric, I render my muses along a spectrum of character types and marginalized bodies. Some are excessive, sexualized, and quirky. Others are passive or dominant, a culmination of figures that ultimately question standards of beauty and identity. 

Shoshanna Weinberger - Tropical Tan - Artist

Shoshanna Weinberger – Tropical Tan

The Sunset series is the newest iteration from a body of work entitled Invisible Visibility. The series dives into an autobiographical history, one of an intersectional identity that commonly falls into cultural ambiguity. Both works in Summer Exhibition, “Tropical Tan” and “Midnight Selfies with One Sunset”, explores a personal relationship with invisible blackness, alienation and passing. The gridded “Selfie” installation references the contemporary fascination with instant, reinvented and created personas found on the social media platform. Placing one single sunset is surrounded by drawings that I deliberately cover-up, these “black-out” drawings signify hidden, censored and obscured identities. Displayed to reference specimens these images become a collection of portraits with psychological distance. As a result, the works allude to my personal relationship with otherness and “Double-Consciousness”.

Instagram: @shoshannaweinberger
Facebook tag: Shoshanna.Weinberger