Ten Artists Selected for Young Talent 2015

Diandre Davis

Di-Andre Caprice Davis – gif colllage

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Young Talent exhibition series was introduced in 1985 and has seen five editions thus far, the last of which – Young Talent V – was held in 2010. The purpose of this exhibition series is to provide exposure to the work of artists under forty years old, in and from Jamaica, and the series supports an important aspect of the NGJ’s mandate, which is to actively encourage new developments in Jamaican art and to support the work of young and emerging artists. The series also encourages public critical dialogue about new directions in Jamaican art and culture and provides a platform for innovative curatorial practice. Several well-known Jamaican artists are alumni of the series, including Omari Ra, Basil Watson, Anna Henriques, Khalfani Ra, Paul Stoppi, Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson, Oneika Russell, Marvin Bartley, Michael Elliott, and Marlon James. A related exhibition – New Roots – was held in 2013 and featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Camille Chedda, Storm Saulter, Varun Baker, and Deborah Anzinger.

Richard Nattoo - Oblivion (2015)

Richard Nattoo – Oblivion (2015)

Another exhibition in the Young Talent series is scheduled open on August 30, 2015 and will feature ten artists under forty, namely Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Domanie Denniston, Monique Gilpin, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagaye Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte. The selection process for Young Talent 2015 was based on a call for submissions and a total of thirty-five entries were received. While the original intent was to feature only eight artists, the curatorial team decided to increase this number to ten, in response to the quality and range of entries. The selections were made by Executive Director Veerle Poupeye, Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence and Assistant Curators Monique Barnett-Davidson and Tesha Chai, who will also serve as the curatorial team for this exhibition.

Greg Bailey - No Blue Skies in the Land of Sunshine (2013)

Greg Bailey – No Blue Skies in the Land of Sunshine (2013)

Young Talent 2015 covers a healthy range of contemporary art practices, from the realist portrait paintings of Greg Bailey and Alicia Brown to the textile- and fibre-based works of Katrina Coombs and Avagaye Osborne. The focus on textile- and fibre-based media is a relatively new development in local contemporary art and is part of a broader trend of experimentation with media, which is also evident in the glass-based work of Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo and Domanie Denniston. As in Young Talent V and New Roots, there is a strong representation of photography-based media, as can be seen in the work of Domanie Denniston, Di-andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin and Cosmo Whyte, although the latter now also produces three-dimensional constructions. While there is no deliberate common theme in the exhibition, the works selected are perhaps best understood as a mirror of the contemporary world, in Jamaica and globally and address issues such as the politics of gender, sexuality and race and, in several instances, use subtle formal and verbal strategies to make powerful statements that all lives matter.

In all, Young Talent 2015 promises to be a strong, engaging and at times provocative exhibition and a worthy successor to Young Talent V and New Roots.

Cosmo Whyte - You Know We Can't Swim

Cosmo Whyte – You Know We Can’t Swim

Last Sundays, June 28, 2015 – featuring “Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists” and “The Way Home” by Millicent A. A. Graham

ngj_Sunday_Opening_ June28,2015 (RGB)

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for June 28, 2015, is staged in association with the 2015 Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) urban art festival. The programme will feature special tours of the Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition and the launch of the poetry collection The Way Home by Millicent A.A. Graham.

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, which opened on May 31 and continues until August 8, is the third edition of a series of exhibitions that explore the big themes and issues in Jamaican art. It asks whether any concept of women’s art is relevant in Jamaica today and features work by Kereina Chang Fatt, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Berette Macaulay, Amy Laskin, Prudence Lovell, Judith Salmon, and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan. Explorations 3 was curated by National Gallery Senior Curator O”Neil Lawrence.

Millicent Graham

The Way Home is Millicent A.A. Graham’s second poetry collection and is published by Peepal Tree Press; her first collection, The Damp in Things, was published in 2009, also by Peepal Tree Press. Graham is a fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, 2009 and was awarded the Michael and Marylee Fairbanks International Fellowship to Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, 2010. The Way Home will be introduced by the critically acclaimed poet and novelist Velma Pollard, who is a retired senior lecturer and former Dean of the Faculty of Education, UWI Mona. This will be followed by readings from the poetry collection by the first lady of Jamaican theatre Leonie Forbes, by fellow poets Jean Binta Breeze and Yashika Graham and by Millicent Graham herself.

Admission and guided tours on Sunday, June 28, 2015 are free but donations are gratefully accepted. The doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm but the book launch will start at 1:30 pm. The National Gallery gift and coffee shop will be open.




Tanya Shirley – “The Female Artist: Living Bad a Man Yard”

Guest speaker Tanya Shirley at the opening of Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists

Guest speaker Tanya Shirley at the opening of Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists

We are pleased to present the remarks presented by poet and scholar Tanya Shirley at opening of Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists on Sunday, May 31, 2015:

If my grandmother saw her children looking untidy she would say, “How you look like you a live bad a man yard so.” The aim of my talk this afternoon is to reclaim my grandmother’s phrase and apply it to the Jamaican art scene where Jamaica is the man’s yard and female artists through the simple act of creating art are being bad. However, I perceive this badness as a good thing: a subversive act of rebellion. My grandmother used the phrase to imply that her daughters looked as if they were being ill-treated by a man. One could argue that the phrase is a metaphor for how patriarchal strictures in our society still prevent female artists from gaining the maximum benefits that could be derived from their artistic output. I want to make it clear that I am not talking today as an art critic. I leave that to the experts like Veerle and O’Neil. I’m a poet and poetry is art; therefore, I am talking about my journey as a female artist. From that viewpoint, I will also address the term “women’s art” or “female art” and how I think the category assists and restricts the work that we do as female artists.

When I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland, I had the honour of having breakfast with the esteemed poet, Derek Walcott. Of course I’ve seen Walcott on many occasions since then and I can tell he has no recollection of our meeting and why should he, I was but a mere graduate student at one of his many university visits. However, that meeting was instrumental for me because one of the things he said very early on in our conversation was, “Don’t ever get married or have children…I’ve met too many good female poets who’ve stopped writing because their responsibilities got in the way.”

One could argue that his sentiment was fuelled by chauvinism and stereotypical ideas of femininity. However, the truth of the matter is that many great female artists have had to deal with the burden of creating art while fulfilling society’s role of the “real woman”; especially in our Jamaican context, where I would argue that art is still not perceived as a viable occupation and though we have many women in managerial positions, women are still judged by their ability to master the traditional roles of wife, mother and housekeeper. As an aside, I will give you a joke, I went to the mineral bath in St Thomas a few years ago and one of the informal masseurs, while massaging me, asked if I had children and when I said no, my good-good therapeutic massage turned into a blessing and a “balming” for my poor, barren womb. Up to when I was getting into my car, this man was still reaching through the window to touch my belly and chant a few Psalms for my womb.

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Conversation I) (2015)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Conversation I) (2015)

As female artists, when we create in an environment like this, we are constantly aware of the politics of going against the grain. Women are permitted to dabble in the arts as a hobby but when you brand yourself as a serious artist, when you have the audacity to exhibit your work and to spend countless hours creating art, it means that you run the risk of being perceived as a ‘bad’ woman, one who is perhaps neglecting the more important work of contributing to society via traditionally prescribed roles. As the writer Virginia Wolf said, women need a room of their own and metaphorically that applies to having the space to create. The challenge for women artists is that society often does not grant them that space in the same way that men are given the space to work. In the same way that black children in the United State are often told, “you must work twice as hard,” the female artist has to work twice as hard just to claim and maintain her space as an artist. Therefore, when a woman produces art, it is in many ways a rebellious act and her work automatically becomes political. Continue reading

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - None but Ourselves (2015)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – None but Ourselves (2015)

Here is the final of our posts based on text panels in the current Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which opens today and is on view until August 8:


Born in 1961 in Jamaica, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan attended the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she received a BFA in Jewellery and Textile Design. Thomas-Girvan currently lives and works in Trinidad.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Anansi (2009)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Anansi (2009)

About the Work

Other artists in the exhibition produce work that conforms less to narrow expectations about women’s art but nonetheless seems to reflect female perspectives. The sculptural and sometimes wearable work of jeweller Jasmine Thomas-Girvan explores the complexities of Jamaican and Caribbean histories as well as the cultural and political implications of those histories. Her spectacularly surreal assemblages often employ, or are inspired by naturally occurring plant matter and actively utilise found objects that have a personal resonance with the artist.

She often takes inspiration from Caribbean and Latin American literary sources. Olive Senior’s Gardening in the Tropics is a strong reference and Amazonia embodies the spirit of Senior’s words. Regally depicting, in bronze, wood and calabash, the type of woman many in this exhibition have had to be: balancing the concerns of childrearing with the other responsibilities that usually revert to women and still being able to express themselves artistically.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media – detail

About Women’s Art

“When I think of women’s art two words come to mind: tactile and contemplative. Tactile, because process is an inherent characteristic; and contemplative, because the creative process, from idea to completed work, is often interrupted by domestic life, which though messy and frustrating exacts a kind of deliberation that gives ideas time to ferment, developing a dialogue with time. A female sensibility does not only exist in biological life experience but is a product of a specific cultural time and place.”

“In the contemporary Caribbean space, women’s creative pursuits mirror dynamic challenges to previously determined canons and this does not necessarily translate to confrontation. It means understanding your perceived role as an artist, the function and purpose of your art, reconciling this with private and public realities, always searching for a connecting thread or meaningful metaphor.”

“My energies are always in dialogue with our history, past and present, returning to the primal locations of life – to memory, to the body of self and Earth, to birth, growth, decay, death and rebirth in a ceaseless cycle, recognising a connection to the ephemeral elemental forces that shape us alongside the historical, political and cultural forces which have damaged us.”

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Judith Salmon

Judith Salmon - Pockets of Memory (2012)

Judith Salmon – Pockets of Memory (2012)

The Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists opens today, May 31 and will be on view until August 8, 2015. Here is another text panel from the exhibition:


Born in 1952 in Kingston, Jamaica, Judith Salmon holds a graduate certificate in Museum Studies from the University of South Florida; an MFA from Johnson State University in Johnson, Vermont; a BA in Liberal Arts from Norwich University in Vermont, USA; and studied painting and printmaking at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, USA. Salmon lives and works in Kingston, Jamaica.

Judith Salmon, Palimpsests (2014, detail)

Judith Salmon, Palimpsests (2014, detail)

About the Work

The dynamics of memory and the resonance of materials are at the heart of the installation and assemblage work of Judith Salmon. The multiple physical and conceptual layers of the work Palimpsests of Life, made from liquid beeswax and found objects, represent a tactile accumulation of experiences and explore the way in which memories are preserved, obscured or lost over time. The invitation to touch, to share in an experience is a real one in the interactive and ever-expansive Pockets of Memory which invites viewers to leave notes or other items of personal significance in the crocheted pockets enabling their experiences to become part of a work representative of the collective human experience.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

About Women’s Art

“I grew up in the era when children were expected to be seen and not heard. My socialization evolved from activities at home, school, church, and entertainment such as Miss Lou and Mass Ranny, float parades, Jonkonnu, and making Christmas cakes.  Art seeped into my awareness during high school and became my passion.”

“According to the art historian Linda Nochlin: ‘It is only by adopting … the “masculine” attributes of single-mindedness, concentration, tenaciousness, and absorption in ideas and craftsmanship … that women have succeeded … in the world of art.’ These qualities are necessary for achievement in any field, whether art, athletics or business. They are neither masculine nor feminine attributes, but strategies for survival, which women, especially those who play multiple roles like artist and mother, must actively cultivate. What comes before single-mindedness, however is nurturing, and permitting children to be heard.” 

“This exhibition can function as a looking glass for assessing our journeys and contributions as women. It can also be a window for looking regionally and globally to assess how we measure up. Audiences may become curious about the creative processes for women, and making art could be demystified. The imaginative life is work, after all.”

Judith Salmon

Judith Salmon -  Book of Days (2014)

Judith Salmon – Book of Days (2014)

Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists – Prudence Lovell

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Connected III) (2015)

Here is another text panel from the Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists exhibition, which opens tomorrow, May 31:


Born in Framlingham, England, Prudence Lovell acquired her BFA degree from Kingston on Thames Art College, and then her MFA degree from Manchester Polytechnic, both in England. She lives and works in St Andrew, Jamaica.

About the Work

Prudence Lovell is an artist whose widely ranging concerns coalesce in a number of stunning drawings and collages. To paraphrase her own words, Lovell explores “the history and potential for allusion” found in art as well as the various “truths” found in documentary images. The ambiguities and disjunctions that occur due to the immediacy of photographic and other digital imagery and the seeming reliability of these images, often result in a rupture between perception and reality. Her most recent works, such as Untitled (Connected II) and Untitled (Conversation), are based on Skype conversations with her children, who are studying overseas, and address the moderated reality of online connections, in terms of the ambiguities of the simultaneous experiences and realities of proximity and distance.

O’Neil Lawrence, Exhibition Curator

Prudence Lovell - Pentimenti (1997)

Prudence Lovell – Pentimenti (1997)

About Women’s Art

“Women have always made art but until recently their efforts were rarely as widely seen, recognized and written about as menʼs and were therefore often quite invisible. It wasn’t until the 1970ʼs that this radically changed, and women began to be major players in the art world. Much of the discourse that followed this exposure aimed to discern whether there was an aesthetic that was characteristic of womenʼs art. But in the final instance, I believe that most works of art ─ even those taking the artistʼs gender and sexuality as their theme ─ come from a level of inner truth which generally transcends sexual difference.”

“In Jamaica, despite Edna Manley ushering in modern art, its first practitioners were mainly men but in recent decades this has evened out and I believe few would now claim that it is any disadvantage to be a woman artist in Jamaica except in surmounting the eternal challenge of work, motherhood and family life. That challenge I believe, often contributes to perspectives which differ and diverge from those of men and which sometimes reveal themselves through the adoption of specific content, in formal choices, the use of materials and working practices.”

Prudence Lovell

Prudence Lovell - Praxis (Parturition and Presentiment) (2003)

Prudence Lovell – Praxis (Parturition and Presentiment) (2003)