Last Sundays to ft. Heavyweight Rockaz

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for February 23, 2020 will feature the most recently opened exhibition Jamaica Jamaica! and a musical performance by Heavyweight Rockaz.

Co-curated by Sebastien Carayol  (Independent Curator), Herbie Miller (Director/Curator Jamaica Music Museum) and O’Neil Lawrence (Chief Curator National Gallery of Jamaica), the exhibition takes a look at the beginnings of Jamaican music and how it evolved into an international phenomenon. Utilizing art and artifact, video and interactive technology, it looks at the musical genres of Kumina, Revival, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dub and Dancehall as well as the local culture and figures that influenced their development.

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Interlocking to produce musical patterns you can feel through a sound system, the drum and bass are core elements of Reggae Music. As a Drum ‘n’ Bass duo Heavyweight Rockaz uses this synergy to create relatable music that you can groove to. Members Unga Barunga and WelshBass started a new phase of their musical journey in 2013 as Heavyweight Rockaz and had their debut performance at Wickie Wackie Live in December 2014.

The two met in early 2000 while still attending college and have been collaborating since with the goal of unifying others through their music. They have worked with the likes of Tanya Stephens, Jesse Royal and Jimmy Cliff and have performed at venues locally and internationally. Heavyweight Rockaz aims to release new music this Reggae Month including an album and the song Sweet Sensation featuring Jesse Royal.

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The performance will begin at 1:30 p.m. As is customary on Last Sundays, entry is free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the lobby are appreciated. 

These donations help to fund our Last Sundays events. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

Last Sundays to ft. Chris Malachi

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for January 26, 2020 will feature a musical performance by the singer Chris Malachi.

Chris Malachi is a musical artiste on a mission to impact the hearts of people through his potent lyrics, soul-stirring vocal delivery and genre-bending sounds, grounded in Jamaican culture. Malachi, a name that means “one who is charged with a message”, encapsulates his belief in the transformative power of good and honest music.

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His musical journey started at an early age when his parents noticed his ability to remember songs from church as he often learned and practiced them on the keyboard at home. This prompted them to enroll him in piano classes. As time progressed, he joined the church choir- his first platform as a vocalist and performer. He also developed an interest in poetry and songwriting through English Language and Literature classes in high school. During his time as a student of the University Of The West Indies, Chris joined several performance and musical groups, where he had the opportunity to perform many different styles of music, ranging from Jazz to Roots Reggae. These experiences gave him the tools to hone his skills as vocalist, writer, musical arranger and co-producer for much of his work.

The line “Malachi rise up fi build di nation, calling everyone from one to pension” from his debut single, All I’ve Got, speaks to his personal development and encourages his generation to be the leaders of purpose that he knows they were born to be.

On August 31, 2019, Malachi released his debut EP “The Messenger” alongside producer J.L.L.

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The performance will begin at 1:30 p.m. As is customary on Last Sundays, guided tours are free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the Coffee Shop are appreciated. These donations help to fund our Last Sundays events. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

Jamaica Jamaica! to Open on Sunday February 2, 2020

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– How our music conquered the world.

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The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) and the Jamaica Music Museum in association with La Philharmonie de Paris are pleased to present the exhibition Jamaica, Jamaica!, which opens on February 2, 2020 and closes on June 28, 2020. Doors open at 11:00am and formalities begin at 3:00pm. We will also feature the DJ Iset Sankofa.

Initially launched at Philharmonie de Paris in 2017 and titled after the eponymous 1985 hit song by Brigadier “The General” Jerry, Jamaica, Jamaica! examines how the tiny Caribbean island of Jamaica has become an extraordinary force in the world heritage and history of music.

Jamaica, Jamaica! brings together rare memorabilia, photographs, visual art, audio recordings and footage unearthed from Jamaica’s best museums and most elusive collectors and studios, while collaborating with legendary local visual artists to convey the essence of a true Jamaican music experience.

Teeming with creativity and innovation, Jamaica has produced some of the major musical currents in today’s popular music landscape; yet, its rich history and diversity is often overshadowed by its most famous icon, reggae superstar Bob Marley. This exhibition aims at showcasing a broader vision that has allowed the world to know the island’s music, by digging deep into its past and present in search for the roots of “rebel music”, beyond the cliché and the postcard.

The most ambitious exhibition ever staged on the topic, Jamaica, Jamaica! celebrates the musical innovations born on the island in its specific historic and social contexts, unveiling the story behind the musical genres of kumina, revival, mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall – as well as the impact of the local sound system culture, street culture, and visual arts on today’s global pop culture.

“What about the half/that’s never been told?”, Jamaican singer Dennis Brown wondered. Complete with interactive installations, events and panels throughout its tenure, Jamaica, Jamaica! seeks to address and pay homage to the untold half, thus explaining how and why, born from a tiny island scarred by slavery and colonialism, Jamaica’s music has been able to conquer the world.

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Papa Screw – Black Scorpio Headquarters, 1985 Image: Beth Lesser

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Interactive installations, an “operate it yourself” sound system and touch-screen riddim navigator.
  • Dedicated web radio and app, “Radio Jamaica”.
  • A true multimedium exhibition, Jamaica, Jamaica! mixes classic fine arts (Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Everald Brown, Sydney McLaren), contemporary art (Ebony Patterson, Matthew McCarthy, Leasho Johnson.), mural art (“Bones” Williams, Errol “Gideon” Reid, Ras Lava), photographs (Peter Dean Rickards, Beth Lesser, Arthur Gorson, Cookie Kinkead, Peter Simon), audio, video and musical artifacts – including equipment from Studio One, King Jammy’s and Randy’s studios, Peters Tosh’s M16 guitar, Count Ossie’s percussions, drum kits from the Skatalites and Sly and Robbie, and Hedley Jones’ guitar.

PROGRAMMES

  • There will be a full range of programming, including film screenings, and artist and curator talks.
  • The regular National Gallery Last Sunday programme on the last Sunday of every month continues. Each one will explore a different aspect of the exhibition.
  • Special Language Group Tours. Free German, French, Japanese and Jamaican Language tours available by appointment.
  • Children’s Musical Programming on Saturdays.

SECTIONS

 

The exhibition is articulated in six sections, each section focusing on a key moment or a specific aspect of Jamaican music.

All photos from an original exhibition presented at the Musée de la Musique – La Philharmonie de Paris. 

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Exhibition view featuring the Skatalites Drum set

INTRODUCTION: Seeing Sounds, Hearing Images

A prelude and a synthesis, this introductory section juxtaposes two elements that have made Jamaican music unique: its secular aspect and its ritual aspect – by showcasing together iconic items of sound system culture (equipment, photographs, video), and spiritual musical instruments. This section will also feature a monumental series of portraits of Jamaican iconic music makers from all eras and musical styles – courtesy of downtown legends, mural artists Ras Lava, “Bones” Williams and Errol “Gideon” Reid.

1— Freedom Sounds

The musical heritages born from slavery are showcased in this historical room: from revival, kumina, and the maroons, all the way to Count Ossie’s drummers and nyabinghi music. This section incidentally examines how these ritual genres mixed up with local folk and (seemingly) more innocuous mento drew the blueprint of Jamaica’s own “rebel music.”

2— Voices of Independance

Ska-talites AlbumWhen founding members of The Skatalites met at Alpha Boys School, a revolution happened: for the first time, the music “from the streets” entered the musical spectrum. From a Jamaican blend of jazz to ska and its next embodiment, rock steady, these new sounds preceded reggae throughout the 1960s, echoing the island’s physical independence from England.

3— Studios: The Echo Chamber

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Studio One Reproduction in Paris

As ska entered the picture, Jamaica’s music industry became a crucial part of daily life, intertwining music and social issues – as a subsection about cult movie “The Harder They Come” reminisces. This section is a voyage through Jamaica’s top studios over the years: from Studio One to the synthetic sounds of Sly and Robbie, via Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark, Randy’s, and King Jammys.

4— Get up, Stand up

At the beginning of the 1970s, Rasta philosophy seeped through the whole music fraternity, gathering more and more steam beyond the strict nyabinghi drummer circles. From then on, why would the freshly born reggae, also known as “roots music”, call on to Jamaican Pan African visionary Marcus Garvey and Ethiopian Emperor Hailé Sélassié? This section details who these two often-quoted figures are, and their everlasting presence in Jamaica’s popular music.

5 — Trench Town to the World

Bob Marley in His Tuff Gong studio

Bob Marley in his home-studio Tuff Gong, 1978. Image: Adrian Booth

A social experiment of communal living eventually scarred by political violence, Trenchtown’s tenement yards contributed to the musical destiny of Jamaica. Honouring Trenchtown’s greatest, this section explains how Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer brought reggae to the world from their humble beginnings in this West Kingston neighbourhood.

6 — Dancehall Stylee

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Peter Dean Rickards – Bounty Killer

Following Bob Marley’s passing in 1981, Jamaica once again invented a new musical paradigm – a new genre called dancehall. Dancehall felt as if the country wanted to talk to itself again – by celebrating the sound system culture it created and had perfected over decades, and its bubbling visual, linguistic and graphic creativity. From the early days of dancehall culture to its most contemporary icons and movements, this last section showcases the visionary pioneer spirit born in Jamaica that global pop music has been tapping into – without always crediting its origins.

About the Curators

Sebastien Carayol, Independent Curator. Born and raised in France, Sebastien Carayol initially discovered Jamaican music through the power of Jamaican-English sound systems in London and developed his passion from this initial experience. His quest led him to interview key characters in reggae’s history for music magazines such as Wax Poetics, Natty Dread, Riddim, Vibrations. He directed the acclaimed 10-episode documentary series Sound System for the ARTE channel (France/Germany) in 2017. As a curator, he has developed exhibitions on the topic in Paris, France (Jamaica, Jamaica!, Philharmonie de Paris, 2017; Say Watt, le Culte du Sound System, La Gaîté Lyrique, 2013) and Los Angeles (Hometown Hifi, Sonos Studios, 2015).

Herbie Miller, Jamaica Music Museum.  Herbie Miller is a cultural historian specializing in slave culture, Black identity and ethnomusicology. He is the Director/Curator of the Jamaica Music Museum where he introduced the popular Grounation series. Miller managed reggae stars The Skatalites, Toots & the Maytals, Third World and Peter Tosh. In a career that spans over 40-years, he has produced exhibitions, concerts and recordings of ska, reggae and jazz, locally and internationally. He also composed and produced the critically acclaimed “Aluta Continua” done by reggae artist Big Youth. Two of his songs, “Feel It” and “Survival Plan” were used in major Hollywood movies Something Wild and The Manchurian Candidate.  A prolific writer, Herbie Miller has had his essays published in journals, magazines and as book chapters.

O’Neil Lawrence, National Gallery of Jamaica. O’Neil Lawrence is the Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica, and also has curatorial oversight for their western branch National Gallery West. He was the lead curator on the exhibitions Seven Women Artists (2015), Masculinities (2015), I Shall Return Again (2018) and Beyond Fashion (2018). Lawrence is an artist whose photography and video work has been included in several international exhibitions. His research interests include race, gender and sexuality in Caribbean and African Diasporal art and visual culture; memory, identity and hidden archives; photography as a medium and a social vehicle; Caribbean and general art history and museums and other public cultural institutions. He has contributed essays to publications on Caribbean art most recently Histórias Afro-Atlânticas Vol 2 Antologia (MASP 2018). In 2018 he served on the Board of the Davidoff Art Initiative and he is currently on the Advisory Council of the Caribbean Art Initiative.

About the National Gallery of Jamaica

The National Gallery of Jamaica, established in 1974, is the oldest and largest public art gallery in the Anglophone Caribbean. It has a comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica along with smaller Caribbean and international holdings. A significant part of its collections is on permanent view. The NGJ has an active exhibition programme, which includes retrospectives of work by major Jamaican artists, thematic exhibitions, guest-curated exhibitions, touring exhibitions that originate outside of the island, and, its two recurrent national exhibitions, the Kingston Biennial and the NGJ Summer Exhibition. The NGJ offers a range of educational services, including guided tours, lectures and panel discussions, and children’s art programmes and also operates a gift shop and coffee shop.

The National Gallery of Jamaica is a Division of the Institute of Jamaica, an Agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Last Sundays to ft. Nexus

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for December 29th, 2019 will feature the Nexus Performing Arts Company as well as a selections from the National Collection related to music, movement and forms of resistance.

Nexus Performing Arts Company

Bringing the year to a spectacular close, the award-winning Nexus Performing Arts Company is back for what has become a staple of our December Last Sundays programme for the last six years. 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. Join them as they take us on a lyrical tour of the works on display filled with song, dance and theatrical performances, a truly festive way to close 2019.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with the Nexus performance beginning at 1:30 p.m. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

 

Last Sundays November 24, 2019 to ft. 6 Films

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for November 24th will feature a film screening in association with Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA).

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Flight directed by Kia Moses and Adrian McDonald and produced by Tashera Lee Johnson

As usual Last Sundays admission is free though we are inviting donations for the Bahamas Hurricane Relief in light of the severe damage that was done to parts of the archipelago during hurricane Dorian. JAFTA is a non-profit association that represents the interests of the Film & TV industry of Jamaica inclusive of marketing Jamaican productions on the international scene.

We will be screening the following 6 films:

  • Passage directed and produced by Kareem Mortimer
  • Code directed by Sarah Manley and produced by Darin Tennent
  • Origins directed by Kurt Wright and produced by Noelle Kerr
  • A Broken Appointment directed and produced by Kaleb D’Aguilar
  • Trust directed by Jason Evans and produced by Renée Cesar
  • Flight directed by Kia Moses and Adrian McDonald and produced by Tashera Lee Johnson

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The screening will begin at 1:30 p.m. As is customary on Last Sundays, guided tours are free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the Coffee Shop are appreciated. These donations help to fund our Last Sundays events. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

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

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The National Gallery of Jamaica was saddened to receive news of the passing of art collector and gallery owner Hugh Dunphy on October 31, 2019. Dunphy was the proprietor of the Bolivar Bookshop and Gallery, located in 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 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 study ceramics and batik in Japan. There he was introduced to several 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 – which involved selling books and promoting the publishers to writers and institutions – took him to Eastern Europe, Russia, and South America. 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 Half Way 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…” and also offered 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. He continued to work as a publishing agent sales representative for other book publishing companies. 

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 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 such 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 then 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 and Thames and Hudson in the UK, as well as 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 current 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 son Damian (with former wife Patricia Byer), his family and friends, during this time of bereavement.