Last Sundays February 24, 2019 to feature Tribe Sankofa

Last Sundays_FlyerThe National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for February 24, 2019 will feature Tribe Sankofa as well as tours of our current exhibition, Beyond Fashion. We will also have on display the winner and entries for the International Reggae Poster Competition in The Art of Reggae Exhibition and the five finalists of the Government of Jamaica Houses of Parliament Design Competition.

February marks both Black History and Reggae month. It is a month that acknowledges and honours the achievements of black people throughout history and despite immense racial adversity. It is also a month that celebrates reggae music and it’s contribution to the development of Jamaica, musically, culturally and economically. With this in mind this Last Sundays will feature two new exhibitions.


The Art of Reggae Exhibition is hosted by the Reggae Poster Contest. The Reggae Poster Contest was founded in 2011 by Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou and aims to highlight reggae around the globe, create a locally based Reggae Hall of Fame museum and gain support for the Alpha Boys School.

IMG_3686The second phase of the Government of Jamaica Houses of Parliament Design Compettition is being hosted at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Patrons may view the proposals, site models and renderings of the top 5 finalists until February 28, 2019. The competition stipulates that at least 50% of each team be of Jamaican heritage or citizenship and, as such, the new House of Parliament will not only be a place where decisions regarding the Jamaican people are made, but a place created by it’s people. There is also a People’s Choice Award where citizens are encouraged to vote on the design of their choice.

8Tribe Sankofa is a performing arts collective formed by Fabian Thomas. It is a vibrant and eclectic group of multi-talented performers who combine their artistry to add an exciting new dimension to the performing arts landscape of 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 Poetry Society of Jamaica, Bookophilia, 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. This Last Sundays Tribe Sankofa presents BLACKness (an every month thing) ‘A celebration of blackness, spoken, sung and felt’.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with Tribe Sankofa’s 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 like Beyond Fashion and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Perspectives on Blackness in the 2012 National Biennial

K. Khalfani Ra - Death Sentence, , National Biennial 2012

K. Khalfani Ra – Death Sentence,the creolecentric/multicultural gaze, mixed media on fabric, National Biennial 2012

Last month, February 2013, was observed as Black History month and this encouraged reflection on blackness and contemporary Jamaican art. The following is a perspective on how these issues play out in the 2012 National Biennial, contributed by NGJ Senior Curator, Nicole Smythe-Johnson.

There is a peculiar tension around Black History Month in Jamaica. On the one hand, there is a very active discourse around the celebration of blackness, often couched in Pan-Africanist terms à la Rastafari or articulated through an anti-colonial lens which associates blackness with broader historical and contemporary resistance narratives. On the other hand, there is a disavowal of racial identification (at least as primary) as illustrated by the National motto “Out of Many, One People”.  This is often accompanied by an uncertainty as to whether “Black History Month” is even relevant in a country where the majority of the population is of African descent and therefore most of the island’s history would qualify as “Black History”, even by the most stringent standards. The question can arise, what is blackness? Who counts as black? Why does it even matter?

Then, in case the issue isn’t sufficiently complex, there are other things, concepts that haunt (and often undermine) the ideological positions listed above. These home-grown “duppies” are of another variety altogether, they have no respect for accommodation-resistance binaries, they do not fall into neat categories or even yield easily to sociological analysis. A few easy ones are “colour-ism”- that more nuanced and elusive cousin of racism, the equally un-resolved relation between race and class and its implications for the distribution of privilege in Jamaica, and of course the ever-present skin bleaching, a phenomenon which try as we might refuses easy explanation.

Olivia McGilchrist - detail from Ernestine and Me, video installation, National Biennial 2012

Olivia McGilchrist – detail from Ernestine and Me, video installation, National Biennial 2012

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Last Sundays: February 24, 2013 – Black History Month


The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present its Last Sundays programme for February 24 in celebration of Black History Month. We are collaborating with the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists, to present a programme of movement, music and dramatics that pays tribute to the National Gallery’s visual art space, Reggae month and Theatre.

This special programme will start at 1:30 p.m. and will be presented in various parts of the Gallery, featuring performances by Ruth HoShing, Oliver Mair, Jerry Benzwick, Tribe Sankofa, the Quilt Performing Arts Company, Hilary Nicholson and others.

Visitors will also be able to see the critically acclaimed 2012 National Biennial exhibition and a special performance art piece by Ebony G. Patterson, which is featured for the last time before the Biennial closes on March 9. The permanent exhibitions will also be open for viewing.

As is now customary, the National Gallery is open every last Sunday of the month, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with free admissions and tours as well as special programming in the afternoon.