Announcing the 4th Edition of WRITIVITY

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is pleased to announce the staging of the fourth edition of its educational workshop, WRITIVITY, which begins on Monday, August 13 and will continue until Friday, August 17, 2018. Inaugurated in 2015, the WRITIVITY workshop is designed for Grade 10 – 11 students, who are preparing to sit Visual Arts examinations for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). The workshop is coordinated by NGJ’s Education Department and forms part of the gallery’s summer educational programming. The main goal of WRITIVITY is to assist students with the development of their visual arts reflective journal, which is a key component of CSEC’s School Based Assessment (SBA) submission. By participating in this programme, students will be taught how to properly prepare entries for the journal, analyze art pieces and conduct art related research, within sessions that utilize the NGJ’s art collection and document resources.

Registration for the WRITIVITY programme is free and there is also limited space for participants, as such interested persons should make contact with the National Gallery’s Education Department as soon as is possible via the following telephone numbers: 876 922 – 1561/3 (Lime landline), or 876 618 – 0654/ 5 (Digicel fixed line).

All activities for WRITIVITY will be held at the National Gallery of Jamaica from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

A link to the WRITIVITY Time Table can be accessed here.

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Last Sundays July 29, 2018 to feature the Rhumbaka Mento Band

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for July 29th will feature a musical performance by the Rhumbaka Mento Band. Visitors will have a last chance to view the exhibitions John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night and Daylight Come: Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica.

Mento music originates from Jamaica’s plantation days and comprises of both African and European influences, sharing similarities to Trinidadian calypso. It predates genres such as ska and reggae and was the first form of popular Jamaican music to be recorded commercially. The instruments commonly used in mento are unique: the banjo, fife, maraca and the rumba box, from which “Rhumbaka” takes part of its name.

The Rhumbaka Mento Band

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

St. Catherine’s “Rhumbakah”, the modern day mento band, is very idiosyncratic. Emerging from Charlemont High School, it consists of talented young men aiming to spread mento music through the band’s unique sound and look. The band, which was founded in 2017,  is directed and managed by Nigel Powell.

To date the Rhumbaka Mento Band has performed at the University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor’s Christmas Dinner, the Ministry of Education’s GSAT awards, the JCDC Customer Appreciation Awards Ceremony and the Nestle CEO reception and other other events.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITIONS

John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night was originally exhibited at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). It was curated by Diana Nawi and co-curated by independent Jamaican curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson. The exhibition focuses on intuitive Jamaican artist John Dunkley (1891-1947) who is known for his darkly coloured paintings, rich with fantastical landscapes.

Alongside the John Dunkley exhibition is Daylight Come: Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica, which explores the events in Jamaica during Dunkley’s time. Daylight Come… looks at the works of Dunkley’s contemporaries, Albert Huie, Henry Daley, David Miller Snr and Jnr, amongst others and the transitory shift into the Jamaican Nationalist era.

Both exhibitions close on this Last Sundays, July 29, 2018.

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

Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Dunkley

On Saturday July 21, 2018, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Perspectives on Dunkley at 2:00 pm. Moderated by independent Jamaican curator and writer Nicole Smythe-Johnson who co-curated the critically acclaimed John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition with independent US-based curator Diana Nawi; the discussion will feature presentations by Deborah A. Thomas and Oneika Russell.  

Conceptualized by Smythe-Johnson this panel will include a presentation by her on Dunkley’s significance from an art historical context; a presentation by Deborah A. Thomas on the role of culture in Jamaica’s Nationalist movements, and also a presentation by Oneika Russell from the perspective of an artist with a particular interest in Dunkley and his influence on other artists. This panel serves as part of the programming for the exhibition John Dunkley Neither Day nor Night, as well as its complementary exhibit Daylight come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica.

The critically acclaimed exhibition John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night showcases a once in a lifetime compilation of the work of renowned Jamaican Intuitive artist, John Dunkley (1891-1947) and was originally shown at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Dunkley was of the generation of Jamaicans who travelled to Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba at the beginning of the 20th Century seeking opportunities for work and advancement. His moody paintings and whimsical sculptures reflect his life, experiences and views on Jamaica’s fledgling nationalist movement.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica acts as a complement to John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. It explores the themes of tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition contains rare photographs, artifacts and film footage from the turn of the century and shows the move from ethnographic and oftentimes disparaging depictions of Jamaicans, to the attempts at social and cultural empowerment by the Jamaican Cultural Nationalist movement of the early 1900s; providing further context to Dunkley’s creative output.   

Nicole Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator based in Kingston Jamaica. She studied Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota (BA, 2007) and Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds (MA, 2011). She has written for TerremotoMiami RailFlash ArtJamaica Journal and several other local and international publications. In 2016 she was awarded the inaugural Tilting Axis Curatorial Research Fellowship. She visited Scotland, Grenada, Barbados, Suriname and Puerto Rico, looking at curatorial practice in alternative and artist-run spaces. Currently, she is Acting Editor of Caribbean Quarterly, the University of the West Indies’ flagship journal.

Deborah A. Thomas is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, holds a secondary appointment with the Graduate School of Education, and is a member of the graduate groups in English, Africana Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.  She is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation:  Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (forthcoming), Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Modern Blackness:  Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004).

A graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Oneika Russell completed a diploma in the Painting Department before leaving to study at Goldsmiths College in London in the Centre for Cultural Studies in 2003. While at Goldsmiths, Russell began to integrate her deep interest in combining the practice of Painting with New Media. She went on to complete the Doctoral Course in Art at Kyoto Seika University, Japan concentrating on Animation in Contemporary Art.  Russell is currently a lecturer across The Fine Art and Visual Communication Departments at The Edna Manley College.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition and also Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica both of which close on July 29.  

Video – Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation

Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation from National Gallery of Jamaica on Vimeo.

 

On March 29, 2018 the National Gallery of Jamaica held a panel discussion Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation with the curators of Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Explorations VI: Engaging Abstraction. It was moderated by independent curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and the speakers were O’Neil Lawrence (Senior Curator) and Monique Barnett-Davidson (Assistant Curator) respectively.

E-Catalogue for Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica

For our latest exhibition Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica (May 27 – July 29 2018) the National Gallery of Jamaica introduces it’s first e-catalogue. E-Catalogues will be created for select exhibitions and, while not as extensive as our print catalogues, will provide notable insight and information on their respective exhibitions, while being easily accessible to the general public.

Click to view “Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica” E-Catalogue

The exhibition Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica was curated by Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson and is inspired by the intuitive artist John Dunkley. It is a complement to the National Gallery of Jamaica’s staging of the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night Exhibition, and looks at the context and times in which Dunkley was living.

(John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night was organized by Pérez Art Museum Miami. It was curated by Diana Nawi with Nicole Smythe-Johnson. David Boxer served as curatorial advisor on the exhibition. This exhibition was sponsored by Davidoff Art Initiative.)

In Memoriam Albert Artwell (1942-2018)

Albert Artwell holding “Black Star Liner”. Image courtesy of Jessica Ogden.

The National Gallery of Jamaica has received the sad news of the passing renowned intuitive painter Albert Artwell.

Albert Artwell was born in 1942 to farming parents in Catadupa St. James. He attended school in the same district and eventually became a farmer himself. At the age of 26 he grew locks after having visions of the Biblical prophets Abraham and Moses and saw himself as a shepherd of the Rastafari faith. Deeply religious, he differentiated himself from other Rastafari claiming to be a ‘Hebrew,’ “because he recognized Abraham as the father of the Israelites.” The genesis of his artistic production can be traced back to the highly decorated hardboard panels on which he used to write verses from the Bible that held personal significance for him.  Religious visions played a critical role in his artistic development, as they were noted as the inspiration for his decision in 1975 to begin illustrating scenes from the Bible which proved to be recurrent themes in his painting for the rest of his career.

Albert Artwell – City of Africa (1978, Collection: NGJ)

His paintings utilized the archaic compositional device of vertical stacking, which is found in Egyptian art and other African artistic traditions including Ethiopian Illuminated Manuscripts.  The sometimes seemingly arbitrary scale of his figures, are also related to a hieratic compositional mode found in medieval and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics in which the relative importance of the figures in the work, relate to the artist’s concept of their importance in the narrative presented.

Dr David Boxer in his essay Introducing Fifteen Intuitives described his work as “wondrous visions caught in intricate drawings that seem to chart the very wanderings and yearnings of his soul”…His iconography, however has been clearly updated by his obvious Black Rasta consciousness. Thus in a Crucifixion for example, Christ will be black (‘The Sufferer’) and his tormenting soldiers will be white – sometimes dressed in the garb of British colonial officers”  

His work was exhibited locally in the Fifteen Intuitives and the Intuitive Eye at the National Gallery of Jamaica and internationally in the critically acclaimed Jamaican Art 1922-82 exhibition staged at several North American venues by the Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service (SITES); The Commonwealth Institutes Jamaican Intuitives staged in London, Sheffield and Edinburgh in 1986 and Redemption Songs: The Intuitive Artists of Jamaica which toured the United States from 1999-2002 and most recently the Jamaica Jamaica! Exhibition staged last year at the Philharmonie de Paris which travelled to Brazil and is currently on show at the SESC 24 de Maio in São Paulo.

Over the years his work was very popular with collectors of Jamaican Intuitive art and he developed a close working relationship with several of the galleries that represented him in particular the Harmony Hall Gallery in Ocho Rios and the Gallery of West Indian Art in Montego Bay.

Albert Artwell – The Birth of Jesus (n.d.), Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection

“Artwell’s religious work and especially his recasting of Christ’s story and mission, indeed the very essence of Christianity, in his terms as a proud and dignified Black man, is his indelible gift to the visual arts of Jamaica”

In 2003 Albert Artwell received a bronze Musgrave Award from the Institute of Jamaica for Outstanding Merit in the Field of Art.

The Board of Directors and the staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica wish to extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Albert Artwell.