In Memoriam Kay Anderson

index1

We are deeply saddened by the news that our colleague, the artist, writer and art educator Kay Anderson, passed away earlier this week.

Kay Anderson received a BA in History followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies. She also received an MA in Education from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The highlights in her career as an educator were her tenures as the acting Dean of the Cultural Training Centre (CTC) from 1987-1990 (now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), Vice Principal of academic affairs and student matters of the Mico University College from 2001-2008 and then as the Charter Principal of the Hydel University in 2009. She more recently taught part-time at the Edna Manley College. She was also the President of the Jamaica Council for Adult Education (JACAE) and was elected Vice President of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) in Kenya in 2007.

Kay Anderson was the author of several articles on Jamaican art with a focus on Jamaican intuitive artists and she also lectured on the presence of African retentions in Jamaican intuitive art in the United States of America and Cuba. Her research on this topic culminated in the 2011 publishing of Ancestral Whisperings: African Retentions in Jamaican Art, a book which, quoting the late Dr Nadine Scott, “covers the historical, spiritual, anthropological, cultural, and aesthetic contexts of our ancestral heritage.” As an artist, Kay Anderson exhibited work in several of the the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Annual National exhibitions and her work showed an innovative approach to using non-traditional materials.

Her involvement in the arts was not limited to teaching as she was instrumental in securing the meeting venue in the CTC complex for the Poetry Society of Jamaica, during her tenure at the CTC, from its inception in 1989. She was also instrumental in securing the land on which the Edna Manley College’s halls of residence stand, and contributed to the design of the student housing. Her commitment to the arts, students and culture were officially recognised when she was awarded the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican Government for outstanding Community Service and contribution in the field of Education in 2014.

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s team extends its condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and many former students of Kay Anderson.

In Memoriam Barrington Watson (1931-2016)

National Gallery of Jamaica: Barrington Watson Lecture for the Edna Manley College Rex Nettleford Conference

Barrington Watson signs autographs for art students after his October 13, 2011 lecture at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

The National Gallery of Jamaica is deeply saddened by the news that Jamaica master artist Professor the Honourable Barrington Watson, O.J., has passed away yesterday, January 26, at age eighty-five.

Barrington Watson - Conversation (1981), Collection: NGJ

Barrington Watson – Conversation (1981), Collection: NGJ

Barrington Watson – or Barrington, as he is popularly known – was born in Hanover, Jamaica, in 1931. He was educated at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London and attended several other major European art academies, including the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. He returned to Jamaica in 1961 and quickly rose to prominence as a major artist in post-Independence Jamaica. Along with Eugene Hyde and Karl Parboosingh, he established the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association in 1964 and he was from 1962 to 1966 the first Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), where he introduced the full-time diploma programme. He subsequently also acted as a visiting Professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Barrington chaired the Bank of Jamaica art collection in the mid-1970s and operated several art galleries: Gallery Barrington, which has existed in several incarnations since 1974, and the Contemporary Art Centre, which was active from 1985 to 1998. His home in the parish of St Thomas, Orange Park, is recognized as a heritage site. It is part of a former coffee plantation and it has since he bought the property in 1968, served as the location of his main studio and a meeting place for artists and art lovers. Barrington left Orange Park to the Nation in 1994.

Barrington Watson - Washer Women

Barrington Watson – Washer Women (1966), Collection: NGJ

Essentially an academic realist, Barrington explored a wide range of themes and genres in his work, including history painting, genre, portraits and self-portraits, nudes, erotica, the landscape and the still life, ranging from the intimate to the epic and all interpreted with his unique painterly sensibility. Barrington insisted on being recognized as an artist first and as a Jamaican artist second but most of his paintings were inspired by Jamaica and its people and he produced some of the most iconic images in Jamaican art history, such as Mother and Child (1958-59) and Conversation (1981) in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection. Although he is best known as a painter, Barrington was also an accomplished draughtsman and printmaker.

Barrington Watson - Athlete's Nightmare II (1966), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

Barrington Watson – Athlete’s Nightmare II (1966), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

Barrington executed several major commissions, including the mural The Garden Party (1975) and the installation Trust (1975, with Cecil Baugh) at the Bank of Jamaica, and the mural Our Heritage (1974) at Olympia in Kingston. He executed many official portraits, including those of past Prime Ministers of Jamaica, of Martin Luther King (1970) at Spelman College, and of former Commonwealth Secretary-General and UWI Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal at the University of the West Indies – Mona (1992) and Marlborough House in London (1995). His work is well represented in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection, with masterworks such as Mother and Child (1958-59), Washerwomen (1966), Athlete’s Nightmare II (1966), Conversation (1981) and Fishing Village (1996), and he is featured in many other public, corporate and private collections in Jamaica and internationally.

Barrington Watson - Mother and Child (1958-59), Collection: NGJ

Barrington Watson – Mother and Child (1958-59), Collection: NGJ

Barrington Watson received many awards and accolades during his lifetime. These include the national orders, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, in 1984, the Order of Jamaica in 2006, and the Institute of Jamaica’s Gold Musgrave Medal in 2000. The National Gallery of Jamaica honoured Barrington with a major retrospective in 2012, which was curated by the then Chief Curator Dr David Boxer and guest curator Claudia Hucke and presented as part of the National Gallery’s Jamaica 50 programme.

Barrington Watson - Barbara (c1962), Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

Barrington Watson – Barbara (c1962), Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

The National Gallery’s Chairman, Mr Peter Reid, lauded Barrington for his outstanding contribution to the development of Jamaican art, as an eminent artist and art educator and as a role model to many artists in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the African diaspora. He stated “Barrington is a true national icon and we will treasure his artistic legacy for many generations to come.” The National Gallery’s Executive Director Dr Veerle Poupeye added: “Barrington Watson was a defining figure in post-Independence Jamaican art and his work reflects the spirit and imagination of Independent Jamaica. He was instrumental in the professionalization of the Jamaican art world and an outspoken and influential voice in the development of modern art in Jamaica.” Barrington Watson served on the National Gallery Board for several years.

The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica pay tribute to Barrington Watson, as one of Jamaica’s greats, and extend their heartfelt condolences to his wife Doreen, his children Janice, Raymond, Basil, Bright and Shauna-Kay and his other family members and friends.

Barrington Watson at his Eastwood Park studio in 1967

Barrington Watson at his Eastwood Park studio in 1967

Stuart Hall (1932-2014)

Photo courtesy of Annie Paul

Stuart Hall in Jamaica, 1998 (Photo courtesy of Annie Paul)

We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Stuart Hall. Our Chief Curator, Charles Campbell, has penned the following tribute:

“Jamaican born sociologist and cultural theorist Stuart Hall died today at the age of 82. A leading intellectual and one of the founders of Cultural Studies in Britain, Hall was part of the so called Windrush generation that moved from Jamaica to England after the Second World War.

Hall is one of the most influential thinkers of his generation. The impact of his work has been felt across academic disciplines and filtered into popular discourse through both his writing and regular appearances on British television and radio. Known for his work on race, gender, identity and sexuality he also made significant contributions to the examination of the visual arts with specific regard for the work of Black British and Caribbean artists.

Hall presented a nuanced understanding of culture as something constantly in formation, always changing and never static. While pushing against essentializing black subjectivity he never shied away from acknowledging how race and ethnicity often set the context in which an artwork was viewed and determined its readings. He was also an advocated of a strong critical discourse, one that looked both at the context of the work being produced and the works own merits.

In his writings on art he sought to undo the binary structure of centre and periphery, showing ‘Modernity and its “Others”‘ to be closely intertwined. He was fascinated by the complexity of the visual image and the many ways in which they could be read and supported the notion of images that interrogated their viewer, asking questions and giving information but perhaps not answers.

Hall’s legacy lives on through the work of the many thinkers, writers, artists and academics he influenced. As per the name of John Akomfrahs biographic video installation about Stuart Hall, his life was an unfinished conversation.”

We have also received the following statement from the Centre for Caribbean Thought:

“Stuart Hall, Caribbean Thought and the World We Live In.

There have been many tributes to the Jamaican born thinker Stuart Hall. We at the Centre  for Caribbean Thought  remember the 2004 conference , ‘Culture , Politics , Race and Diaspora: The Thought of Stuart Hall,’ where  with  mesmerizing eloquence Hall addressed  ideas about  thinking, activism, the Caribbean  Diaspora , politics and  the  complex relationships between culture , race, class and power. When we invited Hall in 2003  and informed him that his work would be the subject of a ‘Caribbean Reasonings Conference’ his initial response,  typical of his character  was that he had not written much on the Caribbean ; that  his work was not  of the kind like that of Lamming , or CLR James . Yet in a lecture delivered at the 50th anniversary of the University of West Indies, Hall had noted that the 1998 event occurred at the same time as the 50th anniversary of the docking of the SS Empire Windrush in the UK. That landing began a new history of post war Caribbean migration to the UK.

Hall arrived in the UK as a Rhodes Scholar in 1951. His life was a Caribbean life away, a diasporic life in which the new meanings of home were constructed while retaining  echoes of the former home. How could one forget the 1991 seven part documentary series which he narrated, Redemption Song that deeply explored the past and present of the Caribbean? Hall was a Caribbean intellectual, one who was part and parcel of the post war Afro- Caribbean migration experience.  That he did not  return   ‘home’ like others,  George Lamming,  or Sylvia Wynter (who returned for a while) and others did not mean that he was not Caribbean. What it meant was that the Caribbean was now working through a different geographical and cultural location. He himself noted: ‘The fate of the Caribbean people living in the UK, the USA or Canada is no more “external” to Caribbean history than the Empire was “external” to the so called domestic history of Britain.’

Living at the heart of the British colonial empire in its dying days and on the cusp of regional political independence was both a formidable intellectual and political challenge for Hall.  These challenges remained with him for a long time and as he said in an interview in 2012, ‘I am not quite English.’ Hall’s preoccupation with Diaspora and race emerged out of this conundrum which he navigated. There is profound connection between Hall’s life and his writings and thinking about Diaspora and race for as he once said in a debate with a conservative political figure in London. ‘You cannot have at the back of your head what I have in mine. You once owned me on a plantation.’

When Hall became involved in British left politics it was at a moment when orthodox Marxism was reeling from the exposures and revelations of the brutalities of Stalinism. If in 1956, another Caribbean figure, Aime Cesaire resigned  from the French Communist Party stating that not only the bodies  murdered by Stalin  were an eloquent testimony to the negative practices of  orthodox communism but that the colonial  and race problems  required new and different readings of  how societies were constituted, Hall along with others in 1960 founded the New Left Review  as one attempt to construct a new left politics. This desire to construct a different left politics which was not a distant cousin of orthodox Marxism (what he would call in 1986 in an article on ideology, ‘Marxism without guarantees’) was critical to Hall’s intellectual and political life. Indeed his work as the central founder of the field of Cultural Studies at Birmingham University was not so much about a study of the popular but more about thinking around the relationships between power and culture. It was to understand culture as a complex phenomenon which was always contested but importantly he believed  that one could not think politically without grappling with the yeast of culture. It was this  understanding which  made it possible for him to coin the term ‘Thatcherism’ as a hegemonic cluster of ideas which were not just political but deeply rooted in  the cultural and social history of Britain.

Hall’s political thinking in recent years was to grapple with the ideas inaugurated by Thatcher and others  and what he called a year ago the ‘neo-liberal revolution.’ He reminds us that Thatcher once said, ‘the object is to change the soul.’ In grappling with this new ideological configuration, Hall posited two sets of ideas amongst many which might be in part legacies for us today. The first is the notion of contingency. The idea that social and political life is not fixed, that there is no formal closure and therefore there is fluidity in what seems fixed and frozen. It is an important idea because it always means that in the darkest of times there are always ‘points of light.’  The second is one which he took from the Italian political thinker, Antonio Gramsci — the idea of ‘common sense.’ His challenge to us was that we should understand how common sense gets  formed.  In  an  article written by himself and Alan O‘Shea  in December 2013, he argued that  the ‘assumption that everyone is obviously going to agree with what is being proposed is in fact a means of securing that agreement.’   He also noted that the idea that ‘we all share common sense values … is a powerful legitimation strategy.’

That months before his death  Hall and others worked on the Kilburn Manifesto a document about the possibilities of renewing  the left in Britain is indicative of a force field of determination. But perhaps even more so it was indicative of   his deep desire to confront the world as we know it and challenge its assumptions. In London, Hall’s contribution to visual culture is well known particularly his work with the group of Black Photographers and the establishment of Rivington Place. Hall had that rare gift of discerning the contours of the world in which we live. With unmatched generosity he worked across generations. He was open to the future and to the possibilities of a different world as he practiced a form of engaged listening and dialogue. For those of us at the Centre for Caribbean Thought he is a seminal figure and thinker of the 20thcentury.”

Brian Meeks, Professor of Social and Political Change, Director SALISES, The University of the West Indies, Mona
Anthony Bogues, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences and Critical Theory ,
Professor of Africana Studies, Director, Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, Brown University
Rupert Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Political Thought, The University of the West Indies, Mona
 
Updated: February 22, 2014

In Memoriam: Peter Johnson (1960-2013)

Peter Johnson - Want Freedom (2012), alabaster - shown in the 2012 National Biennial

Peter Johnson – Want Freedom (2012), alabaster

The NGJ regrets the passing of the sculptor Peter Ralph Johnson. He was born on April 4, 1960 and most recently lived at 17 James Street, in downtown Kingston, where he operated his sculpture workshop.

Johnson was essentially self-taught as an artist, although he attended some leisure classes at the Edna Manley College. He also worked in the studio of artists such as Fitz Harrack and Judith Salmon. He collaborated with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission for many years, mounting exhibitions and doing set, costume design and restoring antiques. He also worked with Mutual Gallery, Gallery Pegasus and Grosvenor, mainly assisting with the mounting of exhibitions. He was a regular participant in the National Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition and was awarded bronze medals in 1982 1993 and 1996 and he had also exhibited at the NGJ in 2012 National Biennial. Johnson exhibited at various other galleries, including the Grosvenor Gallery and Gallery Pegasus. Most recently he was collaborating with the children’s workshops organized by OAaSIS International in downtown Kingston. Continue reading

Michael Parchment (1957-2013)

Michael Parchment - Death of a Don (2010)

Michael Parchment – Death of a Don (2010)

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of the painter, sculptor and poet Michael Parchment on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Michael Parchment was born on August 13, 1957 to a Revival family and he lived in Seaview Gardens in Kingston for most of his adult life. Called by visions, he started painting in 1978 and had his first exhibition in 1983. He was a regular participant in the Festival Fine Arts Exhibition (later the National Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition), where he won many accolades, including Gold medals in 2006 and 2007. He regularly exhibited at Harmony Hall, the Mutual Gallery and the National Gallery of Jamaica in Jamaica, where he won the Tribute to Bob Marley Competition in 2005 with his relief panting No Woman Nuh Cry (2005). He was featured in the National Gallery’s Intuitives III exhibition in 2006. Parchment also exhibited internationally in the USA, Venezuala, England and Switzerland, and Canada and was recently featured in Contemporary Jamaican Art, Circa 1962/Circa 2012, which was staged on the occasion of Jamaica 50 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga near Toronto. He also self-published several volumes of his poetry, which had titles such as I Raged in Chains and The Inna Thoughts and Feelings of the Poet.

Michael Parchment - No Woman Nuh Cry, 2005

Michael Parchment – No Woman Nuh Cry (2005), Collection: NGJ

Continue reading

Wilfred “Jabba” Francis (1924-2013)

Wilfred Francis - Ethiopia Stretches Forth Her Hand (1968), Collection: Wayne Chen

Wilfred Francis – Ethiopia Stretches Forth Her Hands (1968), Collection: Wayne Chen

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of self-taught artist Wilfred Francis on August 21, 2013.

Wilfred Francis, who was popularly known as “Jabba”, was born in Spanish Town on August 24, 1924 – he died just three days short of his 89th birthday – and started painting sometime in 1966. His first exhibition on record was the 1967 Festival exhibition, where his work was favourably received, but Francis withdrew from the formal art world shortly after although he continued working, reportedly because of negative experiences with art patrons. Nearly forty years later, he started exhibiting again, encouraged by art dealer and collector Wayne Gallimore, and in 2004 had his first and only solo exhibition at the Mutual Gallery. His unique style and eccentric, visionary imagination were a revelation to many in the Jamaican art world and late in life he acquired a small but enthusiastic following of collectors.

Wilfred Francis at his Kingston home and studio in 2006 (photo: Veerle Poupeye)

Wilfred Francis at his Kingston home and studio in 2006 (photo: Veerle Poupeye)

Continue reading