Jamaica’s Art Pioneers: Rhoda Jackson (1913-1971)

Rhoda Jackson -Washing by the River - (1945, Collection: NGJ)

Rhoda Jackson -Washing by the River – (1945, Collection: NGJ)

The Jamaican painter and designer Rhoda Jackson is usually mentioned in accounts of Jamaican art history, but has not received the more comprehensive attention her work warrants – her story is one of a number of untold stories in Jamaican art. While filling this gap requires a longer term research project, we are now presenting this short, initial feature on her work. We invite members of the public who have information about her life and work, and photographs of her extant work in painting and design, to contact us, so that we can expand and update this feature.

Rhoda Jackson (1913 – 1971) was a Jamaican artist and designer who was active from the mid 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Gilmock Hall, St Elizabeth and was based in Mandeville for most of her life.  She attended the Hampton High School in Malvern, St Elizabeth in Jamaica and subsequently trained in art at the Reading University Arts School in England, and the Art Student League in New York City. Her uncle Cyril G. Jackson was a watercolourist of some note and was also based in Mandeville.

Rhoda Jackson - souvenir tea towel (Jamaica)

Rhoda Jackson – souvenir tea towel (Jamaica)

Rhoda Jackson is best known for the murals and designs she did mainly for the tourism industry, for instance at the Tower Isle Hotel, where she also had regular exhibitions. She also did designs for embroidery, including for the Allsides workshop, and other textiles and designed advertisements, postcards and book covers. She was one of the first professional designers on record in Jamaica – the art deco furniture designer Burnett Webster being another.

Richmond Barthe - portrait of Rhoda Jackson (c1960, Collection: NGJ)

Richmond Barthe – portrait of Rhoda Jackson (c1960, Collection: NGJ)

There are many things about Rhoda Jackson’s life that warrant further research: during her student years in England, for instance, she was friendly with the famous Scottish photojournalist George Rodger, one of the founders of the Magnum photographic cooperative. Rodger visited her in Jamaica in 1950 and made several noteworthy photographs of the island during his visit. The African-American sculptor Richmond Barthé, who owned a house in St Ann and lived in Jamaica from 1947 and for about 20 years, did a portrait bust of her circa 1960. Rhoda Jackson also appears to have been friendly with the English painter Eve Disher, who was a repeat visitor to the island.

Book cover design by Rhoda Jackson

Book cover design by Rhoda Jackson

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Young Talent 2015: Cosmo Whyte

Cosmo Whyte - YOU Know WE Can't Swim Right? (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – YOU Know WE Can’t Swim Right? (2015)

Here is the last of our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens today, Sunday, August 30. Doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm. The function starts at 1:30 pm, and will feature a short documentary on the participating artists and a musical performance by Jah9. The exhibition continues until November 14.

Cosmo Whyte was born in St Andrew, Jamaica in 1982. He attended Bennington College in Vermont where he obtained his BFA, Maryland Institute College of Art for a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and he graduated first in his class from the University of Michigan for his MFA. Cosmo Whyte is currently a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Cosmo Whyte - Town Crier (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – Town Crier (2015)

Artist’s Statement

“Terra Incognita…The New World is the third term—the primal scene—where the fateful/fatal encounter was staged between Africa and the West…. stands for the endless ways which Caribbean people have been destined to migrate.” (Stuart Hall, Cultural Identity and Diaspora, 1994)

My current body of work explores postcolonial identity through the lens of tourism, diaspora, globalization and migration. Through the process of installations of drawings, photographs and sculpture, I argue for the re-examination of identity as not fixed, but liquid and in a constant state of flux. Taken in its entirety, my work is interested in probing the following question: How has identity, sense of placelessness, or presence been altered by dislocation?

Cosmo Whyte - The Ginal

Cosmo Whyte – The Ginal

The work in Young Talent 2015 argues that the modern condition is migratory and as vast numbers of people continue to cross borders (sometimes at great loss) the question of citizenship and home becomes increasingly complicated. I have approached this show as a testing ground to explore parallels that exist between the mass migration of West and East African through the Mediterranean into Europe and Haitians being forced to leave Dominican Republic. None of the work on display is didactic but it rather looks on the black body as it is situated in a specific historical context when it comes to borders, migration, death by water, and survival.

Cosmo Whyte - Punch Drunk Love (2015)

Cosmo Whyte – Punch Drunk Love (2015)

Young Talent 2015: Avagay Osborne

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Avagay Osborne – Untitled (2015)

Here is another of our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens tomorrow, Sunday, August 30:

Avagay Osborne was born in 1990 in Manchester, Jamaica. She is a recent graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where she attained a BFA in Painting. She lives in Manchester, Jamaica.

Avagay Osborne - "Sorry"  (2015)

Avagay Osborne – “Sorry” (2015)

Artist’s Statement

Self-recovery is the term applied to the process of healing, from general disturbances and trauma. Reflections on past experiences have provided a thematic substance to my work thus far. My work is a direct reflection, response and act of self-recovery from a series of personal events and near-traumatic experiences. I believe that though these experiences are personal they are also no doubt a part of overall human condition. My adolescent years were troubled and traumatic and at age 23, I went through another traumatic experience, I have endured some level of physical and emotional abuse during these periods and these traumatic experiences have influenced my works.

Avagay Osborne - Untitled (2015)

Avagay Osborne – Untitled (2015)

Young Talent 2015: Richard Nattoo

Richard Nattoo - Oblivion (2015)

Richard Nattoo – Oblivion (2015)

Here is another of our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens on Sunday, August 30:

Richard Nattoo was born 1993, in St Catherine, Jamaica. Nattoo currently attends the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica, where he is pursuing the Bachelors of Arts in Architectural Studies.

Richard Nattoo – Athena’s Oculus (2015)

Artist’s Statement

Exploration has always been a constant in my life, and an integral part of my art and artistic processes. I create in an attempt to capture and deconstruct the common feelings and emotions of everyday life, so that I can examine their inner workings. At its core, my work attempts to capture the feelings and emotions I experience and to translate them into the surreal spaces that we all inhabit within ourselves. The goal is to explore feelings and emotions on murky cerebral levels and to construct the tumultuous and beautiful inner world that resides within all of us. I call this inner world the Silent Echo and my exhibitions have been about exploring this rich and textured place. A variety of mediums such as pen and ink, watercolour and most recently glass have been employed. Each exhibition is a chapter of the journey deconstructed.

Richard Nattoo - Silent Intuition (2015)

Richard Nattoo – Silent Intuition (2015)

Young Talent 2015: Howard Myrie

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Here is the seventh of our short posts on the artists in the Young Talent 2015 exhibition, which opens on August 30:

Howard Myrie was born in 1982 in Cambridge, St James, Jamaica.  He is a recent graduate of The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where he received his BFA in Painting. He currently resides in St James, Jamaica.

Artist’s statement

In Jamaican culture, the issue of homosexuality is a volatile and controversial topic, with persons on both side of the debate having fiery passions and each side being sure that their perspective is the correct one. My work seeks to engage in the discussion through a variety of media such as video installation that is text based, wood carving with graffiti elements, and text on glass.  These media are used as a way of participating in the discourse, pointing to social ills and asking important questions that are worthy of attention, while allowing space for contemplation and reflection on personal attitudes.  The Instrumentalist theory of art states that art should do more than being decorative or beautiful; art should be able to facilitate change and make society and the world we live in a better place.