Digital: Patricia Mohammed

Patricia Mohammed - Coolie Pink and Green

Patricia Mohammed – Coolie Pink and Green (2009), still from short film

Digital is opening today. Here is a short feature on Patricia Mohammed, one of the artists in the exhibition:


Patricia Mohammed is Trinidadian scholar, writer and filmmaker. A Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), she is also Campus Co-ordinator, Graduate Studies and Research at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad. Mohammed is a pioneer in feminism and gender studies in the Caribbean since 1976 and in 2006, founded the open-access online peer-reviewed journal, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, of which she serves as the Executive Editor. Her major publications include Imaging the Caribbean: Culture and Visual Translation (2009, Macmillan UK), and a seven-part documentary film series A Different Imagination, of which the award-winning Coolie Pink and Green is a part. Seventeen Colours and a Sitar was added as the last of this series. Mohammed lives and works in Maracas Valley, St Joseph, Trinidad.

Patricia Mohammed - Seven Colours and a Sitar (2010), still from short film

Patricia Mohammed – Seven Colours and a Sitar (2010), still from short film

About the Work

“The series A Different Imagination of which Coolie Pink and Green (2009) and Seventeen Colours and a Sitar (2010) are two of seven films, was produced as an accompaniment to the book Imaging the Caribbean: Culture and Visual Translation. This ground-breaking study of the region’s iconography explores how a Caribbean aesthetic sensibility has been and is being shaped from the many different cultural influences that have come together in this territory. It circles the Caribbean while focusing on Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados, tracing the indelible parameters drawn on each society by the colonial encounter, crossing the boundaries of disciplines and the methodologies and material of history, literature, art, gender and cultural studies.”

Patricia Mohammed - Seven Colours and a Sitar (2010), still from short film

Patricia Mohammed – Seven Colours and a Sitar (2010), still from short film

“As a trained scholar and Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, my work has increasingly moved to incorporating visuality and developing the visual intelligence of the region’s population. My films are experimental in their approach in that they do not follow formal documentary procedure, incorporating fantasy and jumps in time and space, the aesthetics of each frame in the film are of paramount importance. I use the screen in the same way that a painter might use a canvas.”

Patricia Mohammed - Coolie Pink and Green (2009), still from short film

Patricia Mohammed – Coolie Pink and Green (2009), still from short film




Digital: Prudence Lovell

Lovell, Prudence - Untitled, Conversation VI

Prudence Lovell – Untitled: Conversation VI, 2016, carbon on mylar

Prudence Lovell is another artist featured in Digital (April 24-July 4, 2016):


Prudence Lovell was born in Suffolk, England. She was educated at the Kingston on Thames Art College and the Manchester Polytechnic, both in England. Lovell relocated to Jamaica in the 1970s, participating in her first exhibition in the island at the Bolivar Gallery in 1976. Since then, Lovell has become a prominent member of the Jamaican artistic community, participating a number of local exhibitions including the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Annual National and Biennial exhibitions. In 2015 alone, she has exhibited at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts’ Cage Gallery, at the Insides exhibition held at the New Local Space (NLS) in 2015 and, most notably at National Gallery’s Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists (2015-2016). Lovell lives and works in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Lovell, Prudence - Untitled, Conversation VI (2)

Prudence Lovell – Untitled: Say Hello To Nicholas, 2016, carbon on mylar

About the Work

“My work has to do with the global present and takes account of matters, issues, events, and phenomena which impinge on the quality and tenor of daily life in a serious way. In responding, I consciously seek ways, via material, matter and form in which to reference and illumine the Contemporary, both its nature and its substance.”

Prudence Lovell - Untitled (Connected III) (2015) - not in exhibition

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (Connected III) (2015) – not in exhibition


Digital: Jacqueline Bishop

Jacqueline Bishop - Bodies of Water (2015, video still)

Jacqueline Bishop – Bodies of Water (2015, video still)


We continue our features on the artists in the Digital exhibition (April 24-July 4, 2016)”


Jacqueline Bishop was born in Kingston, Jamaica. An award-winning writer, educator, photographer and painter, Bishop is currently pursuing her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She also holds an MA degree in Fine Arts from New York University and a BA degree in Psychology from Lehman College, Bronx. She was a recipient of the UNESCO/Fullbright Fellowship (2009) and the Arthur Schomburg award for Excellence in the Humanities (2000), and her volume of essays The Gymnast & Other Positions has been announced as the 2016 winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (non-fiction literature). Her artistic work has been exhibited in Belgium, Italy, Morocco, the United States and Jamaica. She teaches in the Liberal Studies Programme at New York University and is the founding editor of Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Art & Letters. Bishop lives and works in New York, USA.

Bishop, Jacqueline - Bodies of water 3

Jacqueline Bishop – Bodies of Water (2015, video still)


About the Work

Bodies of Water is, as Bishop explains, “dedicated to my beloved grandmother who I lost close to two years ago. As a child, living on the island of Jamaica, I would spend my summer holidays in the tiny district of Nonsuch hidden in the folds of the Portland mountains. I would play a game of laying on the grass with my relatives and trying to decipher the shapes we could see in the clouds. I decided to return to this ‘game’ but this time referencing the many forms that water and ultimately matter may take. To particularize this ‘photograph’ I went back to Nonsuch and recorded ambient sounds of the district as well as my young cousins singing childhood songs.” The work consists of a series of digital photographs used in a video format.

Jacqueline Bishop - quilt (n.d.) - not in exhibition

Jacqueline Bishop – quilt (n.d.) – not in exhibition





Last Sundays on December 27, Featuring Nexus and Masculinities

December 27 Last Sundays rgb

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for December 2015 is scheduled for Sunday, December 27, from 11 am to 4 pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to view the recently opened Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition, which explores how concepts of masculinity have been represented and articulated in Jamaican art. The exhibition, which was curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence, features works of art from the colonial era up to the present and in a variety of media, by Isaac Mendes Belisario, A. Duperley and Sons, Edna Manley, Albert Huie, Archie Lindo, Osmond Watson, Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Marlon James and many others. Also on view is a selection of Recent Acquisitions and most sections of the permanent exhibitions will also be open, and provide a wide-ranging overview of Jamaica’s artistic and cultural history.

In what is now an established Holiday Season tradition, the featured performance on Sunday, December 27 will be by the award-winning Nexus Performing Arts Company and will start at 1:30 pm. The Nexus Performing Arts Company was formed in 2001 by Hugh Douse, Artistic Director, voice tutor, singer, actor, conductor, songwriter, and a former Director of Culture in Education. The group has a broad musical repertoire that draws on Gospel, Negro Spirituals, Semi-classical, Popular music including Reggae and show tunes, African and Classical music of the European and African traditions. The performance by Nexus will take place in the exhibition galleries, presented as a musical tour, with selections inspired by specific works in the Masculinities exhibition.

Admission on Sunday, December 27 will be free and free guided tours will be offered. The gift and coffee shop will be open for business and contributions to the donations box are welcomed. Revenues from our shops and donations help to fund programmes such as the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition and our Last Sundays programming.

Explorations IV: Masculinities – Catalogue Introduction

Edna Manley - The Prophet (1935), Collection: NGJ

Edna Manley – The Prophet (1935), Collection: NGJ

In what is, at least for now, our final post on the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition, which continues until March 5, 2016, we present an excerpt of the catalogue introduction written by Veerle Poupeye, the NGJ’s Executive Director. Masculinities was curated by Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence.

Masculinities is the fourth in the National Gallery’s Explorations series of exhibitions, which has thus far featured Natural Histories (2013), Religion and Spirituality (2013-14) and, most recently, Seven Women Artists (2015). Smaller versions of the latter two exhibitions have also been shown at National Gallery West in Montego Bay, where Seven Women Artists is presently on view.

The Explorations series, which is open-ended by design, interrogates the history of art and culture of Jamaica, by examining what we consider to be its big themes and issues. The series invites our audiences to be part of that process, by asking questions and by encouraging debate rather than to prescribe answers. For each Explorations exhibition the curatorial approach is tailored to the subject, as this allows our team to experiment with various curatorial models and strategies for audience engagement and to develop our curatorial capacity and vision in the process. The lessons learned in the process help us with rethinking how we develop and exhibit our permanent collections and also inform our approach to other exhibitions. The general curatorial model used for the Explorations series is conversational and whether curated by a single curator or by a team, the conceptualization, selection and design of each exhibition involves a significant amount of brainstorming with our curatorial department and other stakeholders. In doing so, we aim to provide and invite multiple perspectives and we do hope that the conversational spirit of this curatorial process carries over into the reception of the exhibitions.

Varun Baker - Journey 6 (2013), Collection: NGJ

Varun Baker – Journey 6 (2013), Collection: NGJ

Seven Women Artists was the first Explorations exhibition to focus on gender (although gender was a consideration in the Religion and Spirituality exhibition) and looked at the debates and social dynamics that surround women’s art in the Jamaican context. Masculinities takes a different approach and explores how masculinities – and the use of the plural is deliberate – have been represented in Jamaican art and visual culture, from the Plantation era to the present. In doing so, the exhibition also explores how masculine roles and identities, and the perceptions that surround them, have evolved in the Jamaican context, on their own terms and in relation to female roles and identities.

Masculinity is a big and important subject in Jamaica, in light of the debates about the “crisis of masculinity” with regards to father roles; domestic and sexual abuse; crime and violence; feminism and female empowerment; and sexual and gender diversity. Sociologists have argued that masculinity has always been in crisis, since “manhood is widely viewed as a status that is elusive (it must be earned) and tenuous (it must be demonstrated repeatedly through actions)” (Bosson and Vandello 2011) – hence the concept of “precarious masculinity.” The biological facts of maleness may seem comparatively straightforward and secure (although these, too, are in fact quite complicated) but it is now widely understood conceptions of masculinity are socially negotiated and performative, as are gender roles and definitions generally. About the performative nature of gender, the feminist philosopher Judith Butler has argued: “gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original; in fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself.” (1990, 127)

Colin Garland - End of and Empire (1971), Collection: NGJ

Colin Garland – End of and Empire (1971), Collection: NGJ

Conceptions of masculinity vary significantly over time, place and socio-cultural context, in ways that defy fixed definitions and simplistic male-female binaries. Even what is considered as normative masculinity in a particular context has far more complexity than is usually acknowledged. Masculinity is thus not a precarious but clearly defined status, as the first quote in the previous paragraph may suggest, but is subject to variable and competing interpretations – and in the postcolonial Caribbean these contrary dynamics are amplified by the histories of race and class.

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Explorations IV: Masculinities – Curator’s Notes

The following notes were contributed to the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition catalogue by its curator, O’Neil Lawrence. Masculinities opened on December 6, 2015 and continues at the National Gallery of Jamaica until March 5, 2016.

While I feel privileged to have been part of all the exhibitions in the National Gallery’s Explorations series, co-curating the first, Natural Histories, with Nicole Smythe-Johnson, the second Religion and Spirituality with Veerle Poupeye and curating the third Seven Women Artists, the current edition, Masculinities, is somewhat different to me. It is different not because its thematic concerns are particularly unique amongst the concepts explored in previous Explorations exhibitions, but because the theme is related to my own academic work, on subjects in which I have a strong personal investment.

My recently concluded Master’s thesis looked at the convergence of constructions of masculinity, eroticism, exoticism and the black male body in the photography of Archie Lindo – whose work is included in this exhibition. Explorations IV: Masculinities however, goes significantly beyond the necessarily narrow focus of my thesis, as the concepts and realities of Jamaican masculinities are quite complex. Because of this, the exhibition is organized around eight thematic concerns that we hope will take into consideration the breadth of the topic: “Sexual Bodies”; “Beyond the Normative”; “Power & Status”; “The Male Body as Icon”; “Precarious Masculinities”; “The Athlete & the Worker”; “Style & Fashion”; and “Fathers, Brothers & Sons.”

There is, naturally, significant overlap between these themes, as none of them exist in isolation. Many of the works in this exhibition could have been shown under more than one of the exhibition’s thematic headers and many other artists and art works could have been included, although this would have resulted in an exhibition of an impractical size. The themes and selections are meant to act as provocations for further thought, research and debate on what is a topic of enormous complexity and social significance, rather than as any definitive or exhaustive statements. I am in this essay presenting my own notes on these themes and the key selections I have used to represent them but this catalogue publication also features introductions to each thematic section, contributed by Veerle Poupeye, that provide slightly different and more detailed perspectives on the works on view. Continue reading