The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the donation of the painting Jamaican Girl (c1951) by Vera Cumming to its collection. Jamaican Girl is the second painting by Vera Cumming in the National Collection; the first is her Supplication (1948), which currently hangs at the Institute of Jamaica.
Vera Cumming was a Canadian artist who was trained at the Ontario College of Art. An adventurous and progressive-minded young woman, she travelled to Jamaica around 1945, possibly at the encouragement of Jamaican artist Albert Huie, who was a fellow student at Ontario College of Art. She initially taught art at St Hugh’s High School and in 1947 started teaching adult art classes at the Institute of Jamaica’s Junior Centre. These art classes had been started by Edna Manley around 1940 and paved the way for the 1950 establishment of the Jamaica School of Art and Craft (which is now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts). The early students at the Junior Centre included Corah Hamilton, Vernal Reuben, David Pottinger, Henry Daley, Osmond Watson, Alexander Cooper, Ralph Campbell and Leonard Morris and the instructors included Edna Manley, Albert Huie, Cecil Baugh, and Vera Cumming. In 1949, Vera Cumming married the poet, journalist and literary critic Basil McFarlane (1922-2000), who had been among her students at the Junior Centre, but the marriage was short-lived and ended later that year.