Last Sundays June 24 to ft. Amina Blackwood-Meeks + Anomaly

 

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for June 24th will feature storytelling by Amina Blackwood-Meeks and the visual and performing arts group Anomaly. The exhibitions John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night and Daylight Come: Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica will also be on view.

 

Storyteller, Amina Blackwood-Meeks

 

Performing arts group, Anomaly

 

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

Both exhibitions are filled with stories of Jamaican histories which are rich in their potential to inspire storytellers and on this Last Sunday we welcome writer, director, performer, and custodian of the oral tradition, Dr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks. Widely acclaimed for her contribution to the renaissance of the traditional Caribbean storytelling art form, Blackwood-Meeks communicates both traditional and modern tales and her “…deep, rich, dramatic and deliberate voice brings stories from the heads of the ancestors, connecting ancient wit and wisdom with modern needs.” Her performance on Sunday has been inspired by closely interfacing with the current exhibitions and is guaranteed to delight children and adults alike.   See her website at http://aminablackwoodmeeks.com/.

Formed in 2016, the creative arts company Anomaly interweaves dance and drama to bring about the personal and social development of their performers and audiences. Anomaly has produced an annual creative arts festival and a creative arts summer camp for children. In their own words “We believe in the interaction of creative minds to amplify the art industry in Jamaica.”

ABOUT THE EXHIBITIONS

Originally exhibited at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in 2017 and considered to be one of the most exciting shows that year in the USA, John Dunkley Neither Day nor Night showcases a once in a lifetime compilation of the work of renowned Jamaican Intuitive artist, John Dunkley (1891-1947). Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Dunkley was of the generation of Jamaicans who travelled to Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba at the beginning of the 20th Century seeking opportunities for work and advancement. His moody paintings and whimsical sculptures reflect his life, experiences and views on Jamaica’s fledgling nationalist movement. The National Gallery’s version of the exhibition, which opened on April 29 and closes on July 29, contains important new work not shown at PAMM.

Exploring themes of tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism during Dunkley’s lifetime; Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica acts as a complement to John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. The exhibition contains rare photographs, artefacts and film footage from the turn of the century leading into the Jamaican Nationalist era and provides further context to Dunkley’s creative output. It explores the work of his contemporaries David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr, Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, David Pottinger, Ralph Campbell and Henry Daley among others; and shows the move from ethnographic and oftentimes disparaging depictions of Jamaicans, to the attempts at social and cultural empowerment by the aforementioned artists and others of the Jamaican Cultural Nationalist movement of the early 1900s. This exhibition, which opened on May 27, will also be on view until July 29.

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Storytelling by Amina Blackwood-Meeks will begin at 1:30 p.m followed by Anomaly’s performance. As is customary on Last Sundays, admission and guided tours are free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the Coffee Shop are appreciated. These donations help to fund our Last Sunday’s events. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

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“Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica” to open at National Gallery’s on Last Sundays on May 27, 2018

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for the month of May will mark the opening of a new exhibition Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica. It will also feature a special ensemble musical performance as part of Lupus Awareness month activities.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica complements the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition which opened on April 29.This retrospective of Dunkley’s work was curated by independent curator Diana Nawi, formerly of the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), and Nicole Smythe-Johnson, independent Jamaican curator and writer. Originally shown at PAMM in 2017, this version includes six works that were not part of that initial exhibition.

John Dunkley – Diamond Wedding (1940), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica (Gift of Cassie Dunkley)

This new exhibition Daylight Come… explores themes such as tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism in Jamaica during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition provides further context to Dunkley’s creative output; exploring the works of his contemporaries David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr, Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, David Pottinger, Ralph Campbell and Henry Daley among others. This exhibition will be on view until July 29, 2018.

The Millers in 1964

May is Lupus Awareness Month and the special musical performance this Last Sundays serves as one of the activities to raise awareness to this life-altering disease. The music, poetry and dance that will be performed are all inspired by the emotional states experienced by someone with Lupus. The various performers include members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica, the Jamaica Youth Chorale, the Porter Centre for Knowledge and The Music House.

Edna Manley – Prayer/Kneeling Figure, (1937)

As is now customary for our Sunday programmes, the doors will be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm and the special musical performance starts at 1:30 pm. Admission and guided tours will be free. The gift and coffee shop will also be open for business.

 

“Reflection on Parallels and Continuity at the National Gallery of Jamaica” by Monique Barnett-Davidson

Camille Chedda - Built-In bsolescence (2010-2011), Acrylic on Sandwich Bags, 28 parts, each 20 x 16 cm

Camille Chedda – Built-In Obsolescence (2010-2011), Acrylic on Sandwich Bags, 28 parts, each 20 x 16 cm

Here is another in the series of reviews that were produced as part of the NGJ’s recent art writing workshop for its curatorial staff. This comparison between the self-portraits of Henry Daley from our permanent collection and Camille Chedda’s self-portraits in New Roots was written by Monique Barnett-Davidson. Monique is a Painting graduate of the Edna Manley College and is one of our two Curatorial Assistants.

As an art enthusiast, I always enjoy tracking how artists over time have extended long-referenced concepts and subject matters to discuss and explore aspects of culture and social life. As I explored the recently installed contemporary exhibition, New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists, at the NGJ, I was excited to identify parallels between that and works from the NGJ’s permanent display of older modern pieces.

Take self-portraiture for example. In Jamaican art, approaches to self-portraiture have been largely conventional. There are, however, some Jamaican artists who are exceptional and whose approaches to self-portraiture may be more aligned to figures like Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo. These artists – by consistently referencing themselves in their artistic output – set new standards of openness that move beyond the older heroic depiction of the artist, to the artist as a vulnerable, fallible and questionable human being.

Henry Daley - The Artist (c1943), Oil on Hardboard, 60 x 44 cm, Collection: NGJ

Henry Daley – The Artist (c1943), Oil on Hardboard, 60 x 44 cm, Collection: NGJ

Recently, two Jamaican examples of this approach to self-portraiture have stood out for me. One work is entitled (and aptly named) The Artist (c. 1943), done by early twentieth century painter Henry Daley. The other, entitled Built-In Obsolescence (2010-2011) is executed by young contemporary artist, Camille Chedda. These two works illustrated not only a common interest in subject matter shared by these artists, but offered me a fascinating parallel between two different time periods and generations within Jamaican art and cultural history.

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Natural Histories: A Note on Cotton Trees and Jamaican Art

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TOM CRINGLE’S COTTON TREE: This Ceiba, or Silk Cotton, tree is of a type common to many parts of Jamaica. Its majestic spread of branches provides shade and shelter, and you will notice, a host of many types of parasitic plans. This particular tree was mentioned in ‘Tom Cringle’s Log” a 19th century novel by Michael Scott. Cotton trees are believed by the superstitious to be the haunt of “duppies” (ghosts)

Jamaica Tourist Board, Kingston, Jamaica

The Silk Cotton tree or Ceiba Pentandra is indigenous to the tropical Americas, Jamaica included, and a variety is also found in West Africa. One of the largest and most visually spectacular indigenous trees, the Silk Cotton tree takes more than a century to reach its typical size – up to 40 metres high and with the diameter of its trunk up to 3 metres – and to develop its dramatic buttress roots. The tree blooms annually and produces fruits that burst open to reveal a ball of silky white fibres inside.

Silk Cotton trees can survive for centuries and, as Olive Senior points out, often harbour “on its branches a great variety of wild life – orchids, wild pines, parasites, birds’ nests, creepers – which contribute to its almost supernatural appearance.” (134) The Silk Cotton tree also has a number of practical applications: its light wood and large size made it the material of choice for the Taíno dugout canoes; it is a source of kapok and was used to make cloth by the Taíno; and various parts of the tree are used for medicinal purposes.

Not surprisingly, the Silk Cotton Tree has considerable cultural significance, as is evident throughout the Caribbean. The trees were considered sacred by the Taíno, as the dwelling place of spirits and hold similar significance in African-derived popular religion, which may have incorporated some Taíno beliefs. In Jamaican culture, the Silk Cotton tree is associated with duppies and serves as a site for gatherings, rituals and revelations in Revival and Kumina. Because of their size and longevity, Silk Cotton trees stand as silent, giant witnesses to centuries of history and serve as landmarks that provide shelter and shade.

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