Jamaica Biennial 2014 – Behind the Scenes: The Installation of Laura Facey’s Walking Tree and Needle for the Planet

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Once an exhibition is up and running, everything may seem effortless and it is easy to forget what went into the installation. In this post, the first of several that give you a glimpse behind the scenes of the Jamaica Biennial 2014, we let you in on what was probably the most technically challenging part of the process: the installation of Laura Facey’s large wood sculptures, Walking Tree and Needle for the Planet.

Because of the unusual size and weight of the works — 14 meters tall for Walking Tree and nearly 10 meters long for Needle, with both weighing several tonnes — the decision was made to exhibit the works outdoors, in the formal gardens at Devon House. The problem was however to get these works from Laura’s studio in rural St Ann to Devon House and then to mount them there without damaging the gardens. Special precautions also had to be taken to ensure that the works were stably mounted, for the safety of visitors and the works themselves. With other works, the installation was a piece of precision engineering, kindly contributed and very ably executed by Tankweld Limited.

The process started with several site visits, to determine where and how the works were to be mounted. The largest and heaviest of the two sculptures, Walking Tree, posed special challenges because it is top heavy and susceptible to wind. The Tankweld team therefore decided that it needed to be anchored with steel plates and 3 feet long steel pegs which would be concealed below the lawn.

December 2 was the big day on which the two sculptures would be transported from Laura’s studio at Mount Pleasant in rural St Ann to Devon House and mounted there in the formal gardens. The day started with loading the two sculptures, which were at Laura Facey’s studio at Mount Pleasant in rural St Ann, onto a large flatbed truck, using a second boom truck. This was followed by what must have been a hair-raising drive to Kingston via the notoriously steep new North-South High Way and the equally challenging Bog Walk Gorge and Flat Bridge. The convoy arrived on schedule at Devon House in the early afternoon and the installation of Needle was completed without too much difficulty, although special care had to be taken not to damage the Royal Palms that fringe the formal gardens. For Walking Tree a larger boom truck was needed and this was done the next day. It was an even more delicate operation, as can be seen in the accompanying photographs.

Once the installation was completed, we all agreed that it had been well worth the effort and the two sculptures make a visually stunning intervention in the Devon House gardens, right in front of the manor’s facade. The installation has been very popular with visitors and has served as the backdrop for countless photographs. The works can be seen there until March 15, after which we will have to embark on the equally challenging task of removing them!

We wish to use this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to Tankweld Limited for making this project possible.

Last Sundays – January 25, 2015, feat. Smallman, The Solitary Alchemist and the Jamaica Biennial 2014

Last Sunday 25 2015-01-01The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme continues on Sunday, January 25 with a screening of two films: Smallman: The World My Father Made (2013) and The Solitary Alchemist (2010). Visitors will also have the opportunity to view the main exhibition of the Jamaica Biennial 2014. Doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm and the film screening starts at 1:30 pm.

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 exhibition, which opened on December 7 and continues until March 15, can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica, which houses the main exhibition, with satellite exhibitions at Devon House and National Gallery West in Montego Bay and one project, by Bahamian artist Blue Curry, on the streets of Downtown Kingston. The exhibition features Jamaican artists, both local and from the diaspora, and, for the first time, also specially invited artists from elsewhere in the Caribbean. One of the National Gallery’s largest and most popular exhibitions to date, it has already received significant acclaim as a landmark exhibition, which provides exposure to the diversity of contemporary art from the Caribbean region and its diaspora and serves as a platform for new development. Among the artists in the exhibition are the winners of the 2014 Biennial’s two awards: the Aaron Matalon Award winner Ebony G. Patterson (at Devon House); and the co-winners of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford, whose work can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

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Still from Smallman

The films that will be screened on January 25, Smallman and The Solitary Alchemist, were both directed by Mariel Brown whose documentary film Inward Hunger: The Story of Eric Williams recently won the Best Local Feature Film jury prize at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, and has been screened in London, England; Kingston, Jamaica; Florida, USA and Port of Spain, Trinidad.

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Still from The Solitary Alchemist

Smallman: The World My Father Made, a short film, tells the story of John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins an ordinary Trinidadian of modest means. He was a great father, grandfather and husband; an obedient public servant. Yet the most vivid part of his life was lived in a small workshop beneath his house. In there, at the end of his workday, he made things. From simple push toys to elaborate 1/16th scale waterline battle ship models and dockyards, miniature furniture and dolls houses, he painstakingly constructed everything from scratch, sometimes spending upwards of a year on a single model. The film is an exploration of the worlds both real and imagined that Kenwyn Rawlins made, as remembered by his son Richard Mark Rawlins, who is also one of the specially invited artists in the Jamaica Biennial 2014.

Still from Smallman

Still from Smallman

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Jamaica Biennial: The Girl and the Magpie – Love is Not Enough

 

Love Is Not Enough was a dance performance, billed as an “environmental performance”, which was held at the main opening reception of the Jamaica Biennial 2014 on December 14, 2014. The performance involved wearable sculptures  from The Girl and the Magpie‘s Fragile Jamaica collection and was presented in collaboration with dance company eNKompan.E (Neila Ebanks and Kim‐Lee Campbell, Paul Newman, Tristan Rodney, performers), Hans De Man (soundtrack) and The Girl and the Magpie (concept).

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“Nature takes years to grow trees, build fertile soil, develop reefs, etc … humans only need minutes to destroy all of this. And there is no ‘Undo’ button when it comes to the environment.” The Girl and the Magpie proposed the idea of a performance that would use necklaces from the Fragile Jamaica collection, to Hans De Man and eNKompan.E. Together they developed their personal interpretations, through music for Hans and through dance for Neila Ebanks. The resulting performance is a collective translation of the idea of the necessity of the protection of nature’s beauty and fragility. The performance invites the audience to reflect on the fragility of Jamaica’s ecological balance and possible actions for its preservation.

At the performance on December 14, four performers thus wore fragile sculptures made from natural materials native to Jamaica. The performers moved through the gallery space and the crowd, on a soundtrack which slowly increases in intensity. The soundtrack was made from sounds issued from nature, in combination with an organic electronic soundscape. Slowly the performers started breaking and tearing apart the sculptures they were wearing, ending up with their total destruction. At the end, the performers dissappeared and left the shattered pieces behind on the ground.

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Jamaica Biennial 2014 – Hours and Admission

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 continues until March 15, 2015. Viewing hours and admission charges are as follows:

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Installation view – Jamaica Biennial 2014 @ National Gallery of Jamaica (Photo: Deborah Anzinger)

1. NATIONAL GALLERY OF JAMAICA 12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston (entrance on Orange Street) On view: main exhibition Opening Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 10 am to 4:30 pm Friday: 10 am to 4 pm Saturday: 10 am to 3 pm Also open every Last Sunday of the month and occasionally for other Sunday functions (Closed on Monday and most Sundays, and on public holidays) Admission: Adults: $400 Seniors and Teachers accompanying students: $ 200 Children under 16 and Students with ID: free Guided tours (max 25 persons): $ 3,000; for schools: $ 2,000 Admission and tours are free on Last Sundays. For additional visitor information, click here

Note: The NGJ will be open on Sunday, March 15, from 11 am to 4 pm, with free admission for the day. There will be two panel discussions with artists in the exhibition, including Sheena Rose from Barbados – click here for more information.

Renee Cox - Zulu Man Tree (from Sacred Geometry), digital photograph

Renee Cox – Zulu Man Tree (from Sacred Geometry), digital photograph

2. NATIONAL GALLERY WEST Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay On view: Renee Cox – “Sacred Geometry” Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm (Closed on Monday and on public holidays) Admission: Overseas visitors: US$ 6; local residents: $ 300; children under 12: free.

Ebony G. Patterson - Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds (from Dead Treez), installation view at Devon House

Ebony G. Patterson – Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds (from Dead Treez), installation view at Devon House

3. DEVON HOUSE Hope Road, Kingston 10 On view: Greg Bailey, James Cooper, Laura Facey, Ebony G. Patterson, Oneika Russell, Cosmo Whyte Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (Closed on weekends and public holidays) Admission (Basic) Adult: $500 Children under 12: $250 Special Package Adults: $600.00 (inclusive of ice cream) Children under 12: $300 (inclusive of ice cream) Tours Locals with ID: $650 (inclusive of admission and ice cream) Internationals: $ 1150 (inclusive of admission and ice cream) For more information on Devon House, click here. At Devon House, please proceed to the information booth for tickets and directions.

UPDATE: The Jamaica Biennial at Devon House has special opening hours on the weekend of February 28 and March 1, and on March 14 and 15, from 12 noon to 6 pm.

Blue Curry - PARADISE.jpg @ Orange and Port Royal Street, Kingston

Blue Curry – PARADISE.jpg @ Orange and Port Royal Street, Kingston

Finally, Blue Curry’s Jamaica Biennial 2014 project, PARADISE.jpg, can be seen at the following locations on the streets of Kingston: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zJzS2A8y_LoM.kd_IX9HTWjv8

Last Sundays: December 28, 2014, featuring the Jamaica Biennial and Nexus

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sunday programme for December 2014 is scheduled for Sunday, December 28, 2014, from 11 am to 4 pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to view the main exhibition of the recently opened Jamaica Biennial 2014, which comprises work by nearly 100 artists including, for the first time and in addition to the Jamaica-based and Jamaica diaspora artists who entered as invited or juried artists, six specially invited international artists: Renee Cox (Jamaica/USA), Sheena Rose (Barbados), Gilles Elie-dit-Cosaque (Martinique/France), Richard Mark Rawlins (Trinidad), James Cooper (Bermuda) and Blue Curry (Bahamas/UK). The juried artists were, also for the first time, selected by two international curators, Diana Nawi of the Perez Art Museum in Miami and Sara Hermann from the Dominican Republic. The resulting Jamaica Biennial 2014 features a dynamic mix of styles, themes and media, with strong a representation of new media, particularly video, but also of representational and abstract painting. Young and emerging artists are particularly well represented and this includes the co-winners of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford.

The other sections of the Jamaica Biennial 2014 can be seen at Devon House, where work by Greg Bailey, Laura Facey, James Cooper (Bermuda), Cosmo Whyte, Oneika Russell and Aaron Matalon Award winner Ebony G. Patterson are exhibited, and at National Gallery West, which features the work of Renée Cox. One Biennial project, by Blue Curry, can be seen at various locations on the streets of Downtown Kingston.

The featured performance at the National Gallery of Jamaica on Sunday, December 28 will be a by 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 Showtunes, African and Classical music of the European and African traditions.

As is now customary, admission to the NGJ 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 Jamaica Biennial 2014 and our Last Sunday programming.

Jamaica Biennial: “Regal Zeen” by Matthew McCarthy

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During the course of the Jamaica Biennial 2014, which is on view until March 15, at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Devon House, National Gallery West and, for Blue Curry’s project, on the streets of Downtown Kingston, we will be posting short features on projects, works and artists in the exhibition. Here is the first, on Matthew McCarthy and his Regal Zeen project, which was launched as a performance at the Biennial’s main opening reception on December 14.

Matthew McCarthy was born in Kingston in 1992. He is a Jamaica-based illustrator and mural painter who has spent the last five years indulging his obsession with Jamaican street signs, old school dancehall illustrations and global street art movements through an art practice that engages and challenges the traditional art institution. Since his graduation from the Edna Manley College of Visual Art in 2013, McCarthy has exhibited at the NGJ in the New Roots (2013) exhibition of ten emerging artists, and been a key figure in the development of street art in Jamaica, via first the Paint Jamaica project and later the Paint Jamaica initiative. His work looks at issues of identity and politics, articulating hope for the expansion of political and artistic horizons.

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Matthew McCarthy’s Regal Zeen is the start of a new project, a print and online “zeen” that will make regular interventions into Jamaica’s social and artistic environment. McCarthy says: “Regal manifested out of the need to establish a sustainable and artistic lifestyle archive among young like-minded creative individuals, with the greater intention of inspiring a productive change in our environment. These images represent a shift in the very being of our nation’s people towards an expedition of consciousness.” For the December 14 performance, McCarthy and a group of fellow artists “invaded” the  National Gallery wearing African masks. They were accompanied by a mobile sound man, who played conscious music the team had selected, and handed out prints of the Regal Zeen preview to patrons at the function. An e-version of the Regal Zeen preview has been posted to the Draconian Switch magazine website and can be reached by scanning the QR Code at the top of this post.

(Photos courtesy of Nicole Smythe-Johnson)

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