Remember This: Tributes and Selections from the National Collection

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Having spent three months exhibiting a wide range of work produced in the last two years in the National Biennial, we at the National Gallery now turn our attention to history and memory. The current temporary exhibition honours those who are recently departed and brings back some of our Permanent Collection favourites.

In the last few months, the Jamaican artistic community has reeled from the deaths of three of our most long-standing, productive and prolific members; Gaston Tabois (d. Nov 20, 2012), Petrine Archer-Straw (d. Dec 5, 2012) and Fitz Harrack (d. Jan 10, 2013). To honour them, three mini tributes have been installed, showcasing their work. For the next few weeks, patrons will be able to see several of Tabois’ most beloved works (including Taino Cave Rituals – on loan from Michael Gardner), a display of a number of Harrack’s wood sculptures and his larger-than-life metal work North, South, East, West in Conversation. Both displays are accompanied by a text panel with a brief biography. In the case of Archer-Straw who was an artist, but also a curator and art historian, patrons will be treated to a small sampling of her art work, a display of a selection of her publications and an additional text panel that explains her work and its relationship to global and local art world trends.

The rest of the exhibition features works from our National Collection drawing on four themes: Pattern and Decoration, Postcolonialism and Religion, Depictions of Motherhood and the Intuitives. Longtime favourites of the Jamaican public such as Barrington Watson’s Mother and Child and Allan ‘Zion’ Johnson’s Peacock are back on display. However, there are also a number of rarely seen works such as Sherida Levy’s unusual Jamaican Madonna and J. McCloud’s Mother and Child.

Needless to say, the current exhibition offers something for everyone and complements our permanent exhibitions, which provide an overview of Jamaican art from the Taino the the late 20th century. School groups will benefit from the thematic focus of the current exhibition and families are encouraged to take advantage of our Last Sundays and other special events. Our more familiar visitors can engage with memories of friends passed and artwork long missed. We hope to see you soon!

In Memoriam: Gaston Lascelles Tabois (1924-2012)

Gaston Tabois – John Canoe in Guanaboa Vale (1962), Collection: NGJ

I put out my effort. Hopefully I’ll die very old having accomplished a lot of good for mankind.

Gaston Tabois, 1987

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets to announce that the Jamaican Intuitive artist Gaston Lascelles Tabois passed away earlier this week, on November 20, 2012.

Gaston Lascelles Tabois, circa 2010

Gaston Tabois was born in Trout Hall, Clarendon in 1924 but grew up in the small community of Rock River. He spent quite a bit of time on his parents’ small farm, but it was the solid work ethic that was instilled in him by instruction and example particularly that of his mother who insisted on the importance of him taking his educational opportunities seriously.

Gaston Tabois – Road Menders (1956), Collection: NGJ

His artistic talent was apparent from an early age as his elementary school teachers regularly tasked him with making charts for the classes. His dedication to self improvement saw him teaching himself Latin, Spanish, History and Mathematics but it was art that remained a constant in his life, even with his entry into the civil service.  Tabois eventually became the Acting Chief Draftsman in the Ministry of Construction but it was his artistic production that brought him national attention. As a self taught painter,he held his first solo show at the Hills Gallery in Kingston in 1955, where he was immediately hailed as one of the era’s most significant “primitive” painters. He continued exhibiting with the Hills Gallery for several years and his painting Road Menders (1956), which is now a prized part of the NGJ Collection, was originally shown there. Continue reading

Last Sundays: November 25, 2012


Join us on Sunday for our monthly Last Sunday opening hours, 11 to 4. The free tours and children’s activities will focus on our permanent collections, including the pre-twentieth century collections, the Edna Manley and Kapo Galleries and the AD Scott Gallery. Free admission + special discounts in our gift shop.

Donation of Painting by Vera Cumming (1921-1996)

Vera Cumming, Jamaican Girl (c1951), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica, donated in the Artist’s Memory by the Haddad Family of Toronto

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the donation of the painting Jamaican Girl (c1951) by Vera Cumming to its collection. Jamaican Girl is the second painting by Vera Cumming in the National Collection; the first is her Supplication (1948), which currently hangs at the Institute of Jamaica.

Vera Cumming was a Canadian artist who was trained at the Ontario College of Art. An adventurous and progressive-minded young woman, she travelled to Jamaica around 1945, possibly at the encouragement of Jamaican artist Albert Huie, who was a fellow student at Ontario College of Art. She initially taught art at St Hugh’s High School and in 1947 started teaching adult art classes at the Institute of Jamaica’s Junior Centre. These art classes had been started by Edna Manley around 1940 and paved the way for the 1950 establishment of the Jamaica School of Art and Craft (which is now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts). The early students at the Junior Centre included Corah Hamilton, Vernal Reuben, David Pottinger, Henry Daley, Osmond Watson, Alexander Cooper, Ralph Campbell and Leonard Morris and the instructors included Edna Manley, Albert Huie, Cecil Baugh, and Vera Cumming. In 1949, Vera Cumming married the poet, journalist and literary critic Basil McFarlane (1922-2000), who had been among her students at the Junior Centre, but the marriage was short-lived and ended later that year.

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Press Release – The John Pringle Collection

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the receipt of the John Pringle Collection, a major donation of 23 paintings by the Jamaican Intuitive master Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds. The inaugural exhibition of the John Pringle Collection will take place at the Montego Bay Civic Centre from May 2 to June 25.

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