In Memoriam, Milton Harley (1935-2021)

Milton Harley – Mayan 1, (c1976), Collection: NGJ

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is saddened by the news of the passing of one of Jamaica’s respected art pioneers, Milton Harley, who died on January 1, 2021.

Born in Kingston, 1935, Dr Harley migrated to the United States of America (USA) where he attended the Pratt Institute in New York and attained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In pursuit of a professional career in visual arts, Dr Harley attended art institutions (between 1959-1976) in USA, Spain, Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, to perfect his skills in areas such as graphic design, philosophy (aesthetics) and sculpture. He later earned his Doctor of Philosophy (PH.D.) in 1985 at the Centre for Postgraduate Studies in Education and Research, Leicester Polytechnic, United Kingdom.

After his exceptional educational journey, Dr Harley began his duties as a teacher at over thirteen different art educational institutions in Jamaica, Canada and the United Kingdom. His accomplishments as an artist included five solo exhibitions in Jamaica, New York and Spain and seventeen major group exhibitions in Jamaica, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Brazil. Dr Harley is a true stalwart, and a significant part of Jamaica’s artistic legacy.

The NGJ’s Board of Directors, management and staff offer our sincere condolences to Dr Harley’s family and friends.

For further information on this esteemed visual artist, see the following link to an article written by Senior Curator at the NGJ, Monique Barnett-Davidson:

Virtual Last Sundays ft. Tribe Sankofa

In celebration of Reggae Month the National Gallery of Jamaica presents a performance by Tribe Sankofa on February 28, 2021 for its Last Sundays event. The virtual programme will premiere on both our YouTube and IGTV platforms at 1:30pm.

Tribe Sankofa is a performing arts collective brought together by Fabian Thomas, A vibrant and eclectic group of multi-talented performers they have combined their artistry to add an exciting new dimension to the performing arts landscape both locally and internationally. Their niche is “…borrowed and original spoken word/poetry, soulful song-styling uniquely blended with other visual and performing arts”.

Tribe Sankofa has shared their unique offerings in diverse spaces including the Lignum Vitae Awards, Gungo Walk Alternative Music and Arts Festival, Arts in the Park and the Investiture of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica to name a few. In addition to multiple medals and awards at Tallawah Dramatic Arts Festival and the Jamaica Cultural Development’s Speech and Drama competitions, the collective has also staged its own productions: Black Bodies, A Tribe Ting and their signature annual production Word Soul. Tribe Sankofa was a featured performer at the Carifesta Symposium 2017 in Barbados. Rising above the challenges and restrictions of COVID-19, they presented their first virtual season in August 2020 entitled Word Soul: The ‘Covid-19 Naah Flop Wi Show’ Edition.

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Virtual Last Sundays to ft. Asabi

The National Gallery of Jamaica presents its first Last Sundays event for 2021 on January 31 with a performance by Asabi. The virtual programme will premiere on both our YouTube and IGTV platforms at 1:30pm.

Going by her middle name, Nailah Asabi Henry was born in Kingston Jamaica on July 19th, 1991. At the age of 8 she relocated to Port Antonio, Portland, where she lived up until she began attending the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) in Kingston, to pursue a degree in Jazz and Popular Music Studies.

After leaving EMCVPA Asabi went on to perform at many well-known Hotels across Jamaica, weddings and other special occasions. For her work she focused her attention on Jazz and Reggae but she always had a special love for dancehall that she was too shy to pursue. Asabi however, decided to take a leap and flow her passion of becoming a Dancehall and Reggae Recording Artist after taking a break from the music scene to start a family, as well as realizing that a corporate job did not make her soul sing as music did.

On May 1st 2020 Asabi released her debut single titled “Bamboo.” In late November she released her second single “Winey Don” on the Meraki Riddim, which feature artists such as Busy Signal and Chris Martin. Her third single “Caribbean Peach” is set for release on the 22nd of January.

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Virtual Last Sundays to ft. Nexus

To close the year, for our December Last Sundays the National Gallery of Jamaica will be having a special holiday performance by the Nexus Performing Arts Company on December 27, 2020 at 1:30pm. The video performance will premiere on our YouTube and IGTV platforms for you to enjoy.

Formed in 2001 by Hugh Douse, the Nexus Performing Arts Company is known for their powerful vocals and cultural performances. The company’s repertoire is drawn from several genres; gospel, Negro spirituals, semi-classical, popular music including reggae and show tunes, and African and classical music of the European and African traditions. Their costumes are vibrant, colourful and centre around cultural dress of the musical genres they embody. Nexus has performed on both local and international stages at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, the Beres Hammond Moment In Time Concert, the 2009 Jamaica Reggae Industry Awards Show, Jamaica’s National Honours and Awards Investiture Ceremony, the 2008 National Independence and Olympic Grand Galas, the IAAF World Junior Championships Opening Ceremony, the Cricket World Cup 2007 Opening Ceremony, and the National Actor Boy Awards.

In anticipation for the closing of this year 2020, we take the opportunity to wish all our patrons and their loved ones Happy Holidays, and a blessed New Year when it comes, from the Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica. This year has been unprecedented, forcing many Jamaicans and the rest of the global community to change the way we operate. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been challenges, lessons learnt and thankfully, moments of triumph. The pandemic continues, but the NGJ remains committed to the service of our fellow citizens and the world.  

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Virtual Last Sundays to Screen the Film “Inna De Yard” + Live Discussion w/ Peter Webber

At 1:30 pm on November 29, 2020 the National Gallery of Jamaica in association with the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) will feature an online screening of the film “Inna De Yard” followed by a discussion with the film’s director Peter Webber for its virtual Last Sundays.

Kiddus I, The Rebel (Image courtesy of Charades)

More than 30 years after their golden age, a band of singers gather up for the recording of a new album before embarking on a World Tour. Voices of Reggae like Ken Boothe, Winston McAnuff, Kiddus I, Judy Mowatt, and Cedric Myron, the famous lead of the Congos, are but a few in this film. These artistes have known each other for years and the have contributed greatly to the development of reggae: they’ve sung with the greats and rubbed shoulders with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff. For the project “Inna de Yard”, they’ve reunited to revisit the biggest tracks of their repertoire and record a unique acoustic album, returning to the sources of their music. On this occasion, they’ll share the microphone with younger singers, representatives of the new reggae stage uniting their energy in a collective, powerful vibration.

Jah 9 (Image courtesy of Charades)

In this film the director, Peter Webber, takes us along for the recording of the album, which will be the soundtrack, as well as the everyday life of the singers for several weeks. His aim is to get to grips with reggae, and at the same time witness the intimate lives of some of the legendary personalities that helped to create it. Built around a series of portraits, and giving star billing to the reggae music that will permeate it from beginning to end, the film invites us on a visceral and musical voyage to discover reggae and some of the fascinating people who create and perform it every day.

Growing up in West London in the 1970’s, Peter Webber was surrounded by reggae music. There was a large and well-established Jamaican community and the Notting Hill Carnival, the capital’s biggest street party, throbbed to the sounds of it. He was a fan of The Clash, who often promoted reggae music and that impacted him deeply. His record collection was soon filled with reggae albums and he sought out iconic reggae films such as “The Harder They Come” and “Rockers.” Webber eventually visited Jamaica and saw the opportunity for stories to be told through the intersection of the old and new generations of reggae.

To view the film and discussion please click the following link:

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Teachers’ Webinar: Programme Schedule and Speakers

For the Education Department’s upcoming Teachers’ Webinar on Saturday, November 14, 2020, kindly see the event’s programme in addition to information about the moderator and presenters.

About the moderator:

Kirt Henry currently serves as Assistant Curator and head of the Education Department at the National Gallery of Jamaica. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Heritage Studies with a minor in Cultural Studies from The University of the West Indies, Mona. Presently, He is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at the Institute of Caribbean Studies (UWI, Mona). Kirt’s research focuses on the production of meaning through dress forms in Revival rituals and ceremonies across postcolonial Jamaica. He has served as an adjunct lecturer at The UWI, Mona where he taught courses on African religious retentions, fashion and material culture in the Caribbean.  

About the presenters: 

Monique Barnett-Davidson is the acting Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica. She holds a B.F.A. in Painting from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (Kingston, Jamaica) and an M.A in Heritage Studies from the University of the West Indies (Mona). Since 2007, Monique has worked in various aspects of the visual arts in Jamaica including art education, exhibition programming and development, as well as art museum education and research. From 2006 to 2010, she also worked as an art teacher, mainly at the secondary school level. She has been a lead coordinator for several educational programmes at the NGJ including public forums, outreach initiatives and workshops. 

Cristal Clayton- Wallace has been employed to the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) as a Curatorial Assistant since 2014. She is a graduate of The Mico University College where she attained a B.A. in Visual Arts Education. In 2018 she represented the NGJ at the annual Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC) Conference in Barbados after being awarded a MAC Fellowship to attend. Periodically, Cristal has worked as co-coordinator and coordinator for the Saturday Art Time Programme and the Multicare Summer Art on The Waterfront Programme respectively. In addition she also writes the NGJ’s contributions to the All about Sweet Jamaica section of the Observer’s Junior Study Centre.   

Dwayne Lyttle is a graduate of the St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College where he attained a Diploma in Primary Education. His professional focus includes the areas of cultural education, instructional communication and visual arts instruction. Currently, he is employed to the National Gallery of Jamaica as a Curatorial Assistant, in the Education Department. Within this department, Lyttle develops educational programmes, does research, conducts tours and periodically executes workshop training as well as visual arts classes for children. In 2016 he co-authored with Monique Barnett Davidson, a paper titled Adapt or Perish: An Assessment of Emerging Museum Educational Strategies at the National Gallery of Jamaica, published in the Museum Association of the Caribbean’s online Journal, Caribbean Museum.