Last Sundays June 30, 2019 to ft. Skasonics + Poster Auction


The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for June 30, 2019 will feature the return of the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) charity auction for the first time since the exhibition debuted in 2012. Featuring select international entries from the 2018 competition and special contributions, including a limited edition serigraph from IRPC co-founder, the late Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, the June 30 charity auction will mark the closing of The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition which opened in February 2019. The auction will open with a live music performance by Sparrow Martin and The Skasonics. Proceeds from poster sales will support the Alpha Institute School of Music on 26 South Camp Road.

The 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica includes the top 60 professional poster submissions to the 2018 International Reggae Poster Contest and top 40 student submissions as judged by the IRPC international jury. A total of 28 countries are represented with China (21 posters) and Iran (11 posters) securing the most spots in the top 100. From the whimsical to the geometric, people and places, the abstract and the literal, the posters represent a diverse global artistic perspective with a special and singular focus: Jamaican culture. The exhibition has been hosted by the IRPC, which was founded in 2011 by Michael Thompson (1958-2016) and Maria Papaefstathiou. The contest aims to highlight positive Reggae music and the impact it has had around the globe.

Grand Winner_Vinicio-Sejas-Bolivia

This year, the IRPC Charity Poster Auction hopes to raise JA$600,000 to underwrite a 2019-2020 scholarship at the Alpha Institute School of Music for a deserving Alpha music student. The National Gallery of Jamaica invites art and culture fans, reggaephiles and world music lovers, to come out and support this worthy cause. The live music will begin at 1:30 pm with the auction starting at 2:30 pm. Major credit cards are accepted, however cheques will not be. Payment must be made on the day of the auction.

The Alpha Institute – formerly Alpha Boys School – a vocational institution located in Kingston, was founded in 1880 and has been operated by the Sisters of Mercy since 1890. It was geared towards underprivileged youth and has been home to many notable Jamaican musicians and artists such as Johnnie Osbourne, Tony Gregory and founding members of the Skatalites, to name a few. Today, Alpha is a day school for youth 16-20 years old along with the Alpha Institute School of Music

Prof. Carolyn Cooper a consultant on culture and development and IRPC board member will make remarks on behalf of the IRPC. A woman of many accolades, Cooper received a scholarship to complete her B.A in English at UWI, Mona and fellowships to complete both her M.A and PhD at the University of Toronto. She has authored the books Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large (2004) and Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (1993). She also initiated the founding of the International Reggae Studies Centre at UWI.

A past student of Alpha, veteran musician Winston “Sparrow” Martin, was also the longest-serving music teacher at the school. Band Master Emeritus at Alpha he was tutored by Rueben Delgado and Lennie Hibbert. He played on The Wailers hit song Stir it Up and American guitarist Eric Gale’s acclaimed jazz/reggae album, Negril. In 2007 he was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for his contributions to music. The Skasonics band is composed of Alpha graduates who play foundation Jamaican music in a style they consider “the real authentic way.” They have one goal in mind “that is to make you move your feet to the energetic beat.”

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. 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 our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

This exhibition has been sponsored by: MBJ Airports Ltd. and Paperboy JA, the exhibition’s printing partner, with support from: Freestyle, It’s Just Me, Graphic Art News and Alpha Institute.


Opening: The Art of Reggae Exhibition


This Tuesday February 12, 2019 the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will be opening the 25th Art of Reggae Exhibition held by the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC). At the NGJ, we will have the top 100 designs on view, in addition to the winning 2018 entry by Vinicio Sejas of Bolivia. The posters in this exhibition will give an expansive view of how reggae may be interpreted and represented from a variety of perspectives.


The IRPC was founded in 2011 by graphic designers Michael Thompson (1958-2016) and Maria Papaefstathiou. The contest aims to highlight how widespread and impactful reggae has become across the globe. Its long term aim, is to construct a Reggae Hall of Fame museum and performance centre in Kingston, Jamaica that lauds Jamaican music in all it’s capacities, forms and iterations.


“I am thrilled that the 25th International Reggae Poster Contest Exhibition will be held at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, three months after the show at the Sangster International Airport. Almost seven years ago, the very first exhibition was held at the National Gallery. I must thank the Acting Director, Dr. Jonathan Greenland, and our sponsors Geoff Lewis, owner of PaperBoy and Dr. Rafael Echevarne, CEO of MBJ airports, who all immediately embraced the idea. Reggae Music has the power to draw creative people from around the world to participate in this poster contest, which is such an excellent manifestation of Bob Marley’s “One Love” vision.” – Maria Papaefstathiou


Another major goal of the IRPC is to raise awareness and support for the Alpha Boys School, which has produced a number of notable reggae icons such as artists Desmond Dekker, Yellowman and Don Drummond of the Skatalites. The IRPC believes that the school should become a template for other vocational institutions of its kind.

Taj Francis (Jamaica) – 5th place, International Reggae Poster Contest

Taj Francis – The Upsetter (2012), fifth place winner in the First International Reggae Poster Contest

The Jamaican graphic designer and illustrator Taj Francis placed fifth in the International Reggae Poster Contest, of which the best 100 entries can currently be seen at the NGJ. His poster is a tribute to “The Upsetter” – Lee Scratch Perry. The design not only captures this seminal Jamaican musician’s eccentric appearance but also visualizes Scratch’s dub philosophy, as related to Doug Wendt in an interview from the mid 1990s:

“Everyone who started dub music must have heart. Your heart goes boop boop, boop-boop; that’s the beat of the drum. A brain goes tick-tick, tick tick; that’s the bass. Your brain is your bass and your heart is your drum. So make sure your heart is not corrupted because what you send out comes back to your heart. If you send out a good heartwave it’ll come back with a dub you see flying in a cloud of good news. So you start from a good heart and a clean brain – drum and bass. You can have guitarists and pianists around, if they are not confusing, but I prefer drum and bass”

Taj is a recent graduate of the Edna Manley College’s School of Visual Art, with a major in Illustration and has been doing art for as long as he can remember. The media used for his artworks are the usual pen and ink, brush and ink, spray paint, and digital illustration and painting and he thus combines traditional and new media. Taj has a unique graphic style which relies on elaborate, psychedelic patterns, contrasting textures, 3-D effects offset against 2-D backgrounds, and bold splashes of colour – it can be described as “contemporary baroque” and resonates with Jamaican and global pop culture. His artwork is inspired by music, a strong social conscience, and a passion for what he does. Much of his current free-lance work is for the music industry and he is also working on a clothing line where he does custom artwork on sneakers.

Taj Francis

Continue reading