Jamaica’s Art Pioneers: Gloria Escoffery, O.D (1923-2002)

Gloria Escoffery – Old Woman (1955), Collection: NGJ

Who isn’t asking anyone to send me back

From where I was born to where I wish to have been born.

Italia, my Africa, I study your painters and your language,

Content to save my cents for the pensione vacation

After the glimpse of the Giottos

To return home, with no regrets.

 – From A Painter’s Philosophy, Gloria Escoffery, c1973

The painter, art critic, poet and journalist Gloria Escoffery was born on December 22, 1923 in Gayle, St Mary. It was during her formative years at St Hilda’s High School that she met Rhoda Jackson, who at that time taught art at the school and introduced her to the subject. Rhoda Jackson was a painter and designer who worked mainly for the tourist industry, among others producing murals for the Tower Isle Hotel, but she was a pioneering and influential female Jamaican artist whose contributions deserve more attention than they have thus far received – she will be the subject of an upcoming blog post.

Gloria Escoffery was further educated at the McGill University in Canada, the University of  the West Indies, Mona Campus and the Slade School of Fine Arts in London. After London, she spent a year in Barbados teaching, then returned home to continue her teaching career at Knox College. She subsequently moved on to teach English and English Literature at Brown’s Town Community College in Brown’s Town, St. Ann. In fact, she made her home in the community of Brown’s Town, continuing to live and work there until the end of her life. She was a regular writer and journalist, and contributed to Jamaica Journal as well as the Gleaner newspaper. She is considered as one of Jamaica’s most insightful, and idiosyncratic, art critics, who brought a highly personal but well-read perspective to her writings. She also wrote poetry and published an anthology, Loggerhead, in 1988.

Gloria Escoffery – Mirage (1987), Collection: NGJ

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