Spiritual Yards – Introduction

The exhibition Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection opens on December 11. As usual, we are posting texts that appear in the catalogue and serve as text panels in the exhibition. Here is the first installment of these posts, the catalogue introduction by Executive Director Veerle Poupeye.

The story of John Dunkley’s discovery by the emerging Jamaican cultural establishment of the late 1930s is well-known. The then Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica, Delves Molesworth, was impressed by Dunkley’s elaborately decorated barber shop on Princess Street, which included paintings and carved elements, and Dunkley was soon recognized as a major, self-taught artistic talent and included in exhibitions and collections. Dunkley’s work did not emerge from the popular tradition of the “spiritual yard,” which is the focus of this exhibition, although the mystical symbolism apparent in his work may have related to his Masonic beliefs. His barbershop however reflected a similar impulse to create a cohesive aesthetic and symbolic environment. Dunkley’s story also drives home that there must have been spiritual yards in various parts of the island at that time. However, none of the producers of the ritual and symbolic objects and images that would been part of such yards made the transition to the formal art world, even though popular culture, including Revival practices, served as iconic subject matter in the nationalist art of that era. This was clearly a function of how “art” was defined in the context of the early nationalist movement, which was premised on middle class cultural values, and what was deemed worthy of documentation and preservation or recuperation as “art,” to which Dunkley more readily conformed.

It took until the 1950s and 60s for this to change, thanks to the advances in the cultural anthropology of the Caribbean and changing public and official attitudes towards popular culture. Rastafari and Black Power were a major factor in this, as these movements challenged the old cultural hierarchies and assertively claimed space for all aspects of black culture. The young politician Edward Seaga, who had been trained in sociology and had done pioneering research on Jamaica’s Revival religions, became an influential advocate of the art of Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, who was a Zion Revival leader. Kapo also found an avid supporter in John Pringle, Jamaica’s first Director of Tourism. Aspects of the popular culture were, interestingly enough, used in the promotion of Jamaican tourism, as Jamaica was trying to assert a more distinctive voice in the lucrative but socially problematic and culturally reductive “sun, sea and sand” tourism industry which was emerging during that period. Some of the earliest photographs of Kapo and Brother Everald Brown, another self-taught artist who was associated with the religious side of Rastafari, were commissioned by the Jamaica Tourist Board, as well as being produced by, more predictably, the pioneering anthropologists and cultural researchers of that period. Kapo and Brother Brown had both established spiritual yards before they were recognized as major artists, and maintained such spaces throughout their lives, and several of these photographs document the early incarnations of their spiritual yards. Their work was also exhibited and collected by the Institute of Jamaica from the late 1960s onwards and the National Gallery inherited most of these early holdings.

Everald Brown at his church yard, the Assembly of the Living, photographed by Penny Tweedie for the Jamaica Tourist Board in 1972

Everald Brown at his church yard, the Assembly of the Living, photographed by Penny Tweedie for the Jamaica Tourist Board in 1972

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“Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection” Opens on December 11

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives, which features selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection. The exhibition opens on Sunday, December 11, with the formalities starting at 1:30 pm, starting with opening remarks by Wayne Cox and followed by a musical performance by the Nexus Performing Arts Company.

The theme of Spiritual Yards was proposed by Wayne Cox, who co-curated this exhibition, and explores how many of the artists who have been recognized as Intuitives are rooted in popular religious and spiritual practices, especially the Revival religions and also Rastafari. Several produced or contributed to so-called spiritual yards, also known as home ground, or sacred spaces that featured ritual and symbolic objects and images that are meant to engage or represent the spirits, which was either the start of their artistic practice or remained as its main focus. As Wayne Cox has rightly argued, these spiritual yards are often their most outstanding works of art and their cultural significance in the Jamaican context warrants further exploration. Spiritual Yards features the work of ten such artists, namely Errol Lloyd “Powah” Atherton, Vincent Atherton, Everald Brown, Pastor Winston Brown, Leonard Daley, Reginald English, Elijah (Geneva Mais Jarrett), William “Woody” Joseph, Errol McKenzie, and Sylvester Stephens, along with photographs and video material on their life, work and spiritual yards from the Wayne and Myrene Cox archives. Spiritual Yards will be on view until January 29, 2017.

Wayne Cox and his wife Myrene have collected and documented the work of Jamaica’s Intuitives for 30 years. Their homes in Port Maria and in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, serve as important repositories of the work of these artists. Works of the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection have been widely exhibited internationally. Wayne has written exhibition catalogue essays for a number of exhibitions, including Intuitives III at the National Gallery of Jamaica. He has presented at symposiums including Taking the Road Less Traveled: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists at the Kohler Art Center and Uncommon Visions at the American Folk Art Museum in the United States. In 2005, Art and Antiques named the Coxes to their list of the “Top 100 Art Collectors in the United States.”

In what is now an established Holiday Season tradition at the National Gallery of Jamaica, the programme on Sunday, December 11 will include the award-winning Nexus Performing Arts Company, with a performance which will start right after the short 1:30 pm opening function for Spiritual Yards. The Nexus Performing Arts Company was formed in 2001 by Hugh Douse, Artistic Director, voice tutor, singer, actor, conductor, songwriter, and a former Director of Culture in Education. The group has a broad musical repertoire that draws on Gospel, Negro Spirituals, Semi-classical, Popular music including Reggae and show tunes, African and Classical music of the European and African traditions. The performance by Nexus will take the form of a musical tour of the galleries, with selections inspired by the Spiritual Yards exhibition.

Since the last Sunday of December of 2016 coincides with Christmas Day there will be no Last Sundays programme on December 25. The programme presented on December 11 thus takes the place of what would have been our Last Sundays event for December. Admission on December 11 is free but donations are always welcome. The gift and coffee shop will be open for business and the gift shop is well stocked with Jamaican-made art and craft items and a wide selection of Christmas cards that feature outstanding examples of Jamaican art. Proceeds from these ventures and donations help to fund the National Gallery’s programmes and exhibitions.

Last Sundays, November 27, 2016 – feat. Jazmyn

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for November 27, 2016, will feature a special musical performance by emerging artiste Jazmyn.

Multifaceted singer, dancer and artist Jazmyn has been singing on her church’s choir since the tender age of 5, Jazmyn went on to develop her talents at Ardenne High School where she was a member of the music and dance club; and further explored her passion for performing at the University of the West Indies, as a member of the Quilt Performing Arts Company and as a member of the Pop Society and University Dance Society. As an actress, she co-starred alongside No-Maddz in Capture Land, a short film directed by Nabil Elderkin as well as the short film Proscenium which was the winner of the 2015 Jampro Film Festival Best Short Film Audience Award and was nominated for best narrative short film. Her musical style is a mixture of Reggae, Jazz and Soul with Global influences and she will be performing covers as well as previously unheard original compositions. Jazmyn aspires to reach souls through her creative expressions and hopes to expand national and regional appreciation for the arts.

Visitors will also be able to view the Kapo and Edna Manley Galleries, the Historical Galleries, and the A.D. Scott Galleries, A Special Tribute to Barrington Watson as well as a temporary exhibition consisting of selections from the Gallery’s modern Jamaican collection, featuring major works by Albert Huie, Marlon James, Eugene Hyde Everald Brown Colin Garland, Carl Abrahams, David Pottinger, Albert Artwell, Karl Parboosingh, Gloria Escoffery, Rex Dixon, Renee Cox and others.

The National Gallery’s doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, November 27, 2016 and the programme will start at 1:30 pm. As is customary, admission will be free and there will also be free tours of the National Collection, but contributions to the National Gallery’s donations box are always appreciated. The National Gallery gift and coffee shops will be open for business and proceeds from these ventures help to fund programmes such as Last Sundays as well as our exhibitions.

National Gallery Christmas Cards 2016

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Who’s on your Christmas card list this year? Visit the National Gallery Gift Shop today for high quality and affordable holiday greeting cards that will help you to keep in touch with loved ones near and far.

This holiday season, the NGJ Gift Shop celebrates over one century of Jamaican art with 24 holiday greeting cards, featuring richly printed reproductions of paintings and photography selected from the National Art Collection.

Our 2016 selection has works by modern Jamaican artists Carl Abrahams, Michael Lester, Karl Parboosingh, Allan ‘Zion’ Johnson, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Gaston Tabois, Barrington Watson and Osmond Watson. The selection also includes pre-twentieth century and turn-of-the-century artists Isaac Mendes Belisario, Adolphe Duperly and Sons, as well as, Joseph Bartholomew Kidd.

These artworks, which have continually captured the hearts and imaginations of visitors to our museum, portray riveting and exquisite depictions of beautiful landscapes, cityscapes and portraits.

The National Gallery Gift Shop also offers an assortment of fine, Jamaican-made merchandise, including: jewellery, prints, paintings, photographs, postcards, handcrafted woodwork items, T-shirts, ceramics, aromatic spa products and home décor.

There is something for everyone!

We are open Tuesdays to Thursdays, from 10 am to 4:30 pm and on Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm. On Saturdays, 10 am to 3 pm and every last Sunday of the month from 11 am to 4 pm.

The Gift Shop plays an important role in supporting the education and exhibition programmes of the National Gallery of Jamaica and your patronage is very much appreciated.

2016 Teacher’s Seminar on Friday, November 18

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The National Gallery of Jamaica invites educators and teachers-in-training to attend our third annual one-day seminar entitled Art Exhibitions as Teaching Tools, which will be held on Friday, November 18, 2016. The seminar will take place from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm, at the National Gallery, and is offered free of cost. Developed specifically for persons who provide education services to student groups from early childhood to secondary school level, the seminar provides an introduction to understanding exhibitions and explores several approaches for developing lesson activities derived from taking student groups to visit exhibitions and displays of artwork in a museum or any other location.  The content and activities of the seminar will be presented by members of the NGJ Education Department and will focus on utilizing aspects of the permanent display to illustrate three main topic areas:

  • An Introduction to Exhibitions
  • Utilizing an Art Exhibition as an Educational Resource
  • Case Study

Though the seminar is based in the practice of art museums, the tour as well as education strategies that will be explored can also be applied to a number of other subject areas. The annual teachers’ seminar, which was initiated in 2014, has enjoyed very positive feedback from past attendees and we look forward to having you join us. Interested persons should contact the Education Department at 922-1561 for further information; no pre-registration is required.

Last Sundays – October 30, 2016, feat. Tribute to Cecil Cooper Exhibition and Music by Peter Lloyd

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The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will have special opening hours for its Last Sundays on October 30, 2016. The gallery will exceptionally be open to the public from 1:00 to 5:00 pm on that day and will feature the Cecil Cooper Tribute exhibition and a special musical performance by Peter Lloyd, which will start at 2 pm.

October 30 will be the final day to see the National Gallery’s special tribute exhibition honouring renowned Jamaican painter, singer, art educator and NGJ Board member Cecil Cooper C.D. who passed away on September 15, 2016. This exhibit features work that spans his artistic career, including two works from the National Gallery Collection. Cooper worked mainly in paint media, using gestural painting and drawing techniques, and his thematic preoccupation with the joys and anxieties of the human condition, and particularly the central roles of women in society, reflected a romantic temperament that was also evident in his musical work as a classical tenor. Also on view are Selections from the National Collection, the Pre-Twentieth Century Galleries, The Edna Manley Galleries, The Kapo Galleries and the A.D. Scott Collection, which provide a wide-ranging overview of Jamaica’s artistic and cultural history.

International recording artist Peter Lloyd is one of Jamaica’s most respected entertainers. While he is best known as a singer and songwriter, he entered the creative industry as an actor and has also achieved a highly successful career in film and television and music production. His impressive music catalogue includes four number one singles – Tonight in Japan; Searching in the United States, UK and Jamaica, Oh My Darling in Jamaica and Blood On Your Hands worldwide. In recent years the acclaimed singer has had several Top10 singles, Wake Dem Up, Dance Hall Queen, Pose, and Gold Digga to name a few. Currently Peter Lloyd’s newest single Pure Love is poised to be the singer’s next major hit, with the momentum it has generated since its release in March 2016. Peter Lloyd is one of the finest live performers in the Reggae genre and has headlined major festivals and shows across Europe, United States of America and Jamaica. Among the singer’s notable achievements is a feature on CNN’s ROOTS: Our Journeys Home, becoming one of an exclusive group of reggae artiste to appear on CNN. “I give 100% for my fans; my life means nothing without them. My purpose is to heal the world, that’s why they call me the Love Messenger,” says Peter Lloyd.

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Peter Lloyd

As is customary, admission will be free on October 30 and there will also be free tours, but contributions to the National Gallery’s donations box are always appreciated. The NGJ gift and coffee shops will be open for business and proceeds from these ventures help to fund programmes such as Last Sundays. The gift shop is fully stocked for the Christmas gift-buying season.