Last Sundays, June 26, 2016/KOTE event – feat. Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and David Gumbs

June 2016 Last Sundays (updated 2)

The National Gallery of Jamaica is presenting a special edition of its Last Sundays on June 26, 2016, on the occasion of the 2016 Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) urban arts festival. The programme features music by Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and, in collaboration with New Local Space (NLS), there will be an interactive video performance by the Martinique-based artist David Gumbs. There will also be opportunity to tour the current exhibition, Digital, and to view the permanent exhibitions.

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Season’s Greetings from the National Gallery of Jamaica!

Isaac Mendes Belisario - Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy (Sketches of Character) (1837), Aaron & Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

Isaac Mendes Belisario – Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy (Sketches of Character) (1837), Aaron & Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

On this glorious, sun-filled Christmas morning, we would like to invite you to reflect for a moment on the rich cultural significance of the Holiday Season and Jamaican traditions such as Jonkonnu and Grand Market. Christmas-time activities have been a source of inspiration for many artists in Jamaica, starting with Isaac Mendes Belisario’s Sketches of Character (1837-38), which depicted Jonkonnu and related masquerades during the Emancipation period.

Christmas is traditionally spent with family and for us at the National Gallery the Holiday Season is normally a busy period, with many persons visiting, often in the company of family members. This includes members of the Jamaican Diaspora who are visiting for the Holidays – we welcome them home and are delighted that many use the opportunity to reconnect with their Jamaican heritage.

Osmond Watson - Jonkonnu (1970), Collection: NGJ

Osmond Watson – Jonkonnu (1970), Collection: NGJ

We have a lot to offer this Holiday Season. In Kingston, we have the Explorations IV: Masculinities and Recent Acquisitions exhibitions and, of course, our permanent exhibitions, which include Belisario’s Sketches of Character. Our Last Sundays programme for this month is on Sunday, December 27 and features what is now an annual Holiday tradition: a performance by Nexus Performing Arts Company. This year’s performance will consist of a set inspired by the Masculinities exhibition and takes the form of a musical gallery tour. Doors are open from 11 am to 4 pm and the performance starts at 1:30 pm. Admission is, as always, free on Last Sundays.

At National Gallery West in Montego Bay, we have on view Seven Women Artists, a smaller but equally engaging version of the exhibition we showed in Kingston earlier this year. Continue reading

Summer Workshops 2015


The following was contributed by our Education Department:

In last few years, the NGJ Education Department has been quite keen on developing various innovative educational programmes, particularly during the summer period. Summer is always a good time to target programme formats to different groups, particularly within the demographic of youngsters aged eight years and older. This summer was particularly active, as we piloted some new approaches to our usual programming. Areas of special focus included more extensive community outreach as well as the utilization of the NGJ’s educational and research resources by our young stakeholders.

We began in early July, with our annual collaboration with the MultiCare Foundation’s Summer Art on the Waterfront programme, which has been ongoing since the 1990s. The workshops themselves were held at a location on Church Street, however, the coordinators scheduled two days in which the participants visited the NGJ and created artwork inspired by classics from the permanent collection.


Later that month, we collaborated with Paint Jamaica and the Parade Gardens community collective known as Life Yard, to hold the Fleet Street Summer Workshops from July 20 to 31. These workshops took place in Parade Gardens at 44 Fleet Street, in the vicinity of the remarkable Fleet Street murals, completed in 2014 under the Paint Jamaica programme. With their main task being the creation of designs for palette furniture built by the Life Yard family, it was a welcomed opportunity for the children in residence to engage in visual art activities within their community. The activities also included weekly yoga sessions, conducted by instructor Nadine McNeil a.k.a. The Universal Empress and President of the Jamaica Wrestling Federation, Kevin Wallen, both of whom graciously volunteered their time to the project. In the words of the Universal Empress:

It is a blessing whenever I am given an opportunity to share the gifts of yoga and mindfulness, especially with youth. Their level of attentiveness and absorption is truly a humble sight to behold… Having just completed my Kripalu Yoga in Schools training for which I received a full scholarship, my involvement with the camp was my way of paying it and playing it forward.

We ended the run of summer educational programmes with another project entitled Writivity, Journaling for CSEC, which was targeted to students preparing to sit Visual Arts examinations for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate. Held from August 10 to August 14, a group of energetic teenagers from different schools across Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine immersed themselves as young documenters and critics of art. Their activities focused on the development and submission of the reflective art journal, which is a requirement for all CSEC Visual Arts candidates.

It was a great summer for us indeed, with lots of laughter, sharing and learning. So as we gear up for September and beyond, we would like to thank the MultiCare Foundation, Paint Jamaica, the Life Yard family and the Caribbean Examinations Council office for helping us make these programmes a success. Special thanks also to yoga instructors Universal Empress and Kevin Wallen; Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Marlon Williams; as well as one of our regular collaborators, artist and educator Dale Bedasse.

Most of all, we would like to extend a loud and excited THANK YOU to all the children who participated in these programmes and shared so much with us this summer. It was a truly enjoyable and inspiring experience for us and we look forward to bringing you even more exciting and value-filled offerings. P.S. Note to Parents and Guardians: You Are Next!

(Photographs National Gallery of Jamaica and courtesy of Sabriya Simon Photography)

“Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art” Exhibition to Open at National Gallery West on May 8

National Gallery West

Xaymaca e-invite

National Gallery West, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s new branch at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, is pleased to present its new exhibition, Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art, which is scheduled to open to the public on Friday, May 8.

Taking the Taino name for the island of Jamaica, which translates as “land of wood and water,” as its point of departure, the Xaymaca exhibition celebrates the spectacular natural beauty of Jamaica, seen through the eyes of Jamaican and visiting artists from the colonial period to the present, but also acknowledges how nature and the land carry the baggage of history and contemporary politics. The exhibition features major works from the National Gallery of Jamaica collection and comprises four sections: plantation era art, with paintings and prints by George Robertson, J.B. Kidd, James Hakewill and John Eaves; early and twentieth photography by A…

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Religion and Spirituality: Spiritual Warriors

Renee Cox - The Red Coat (2004), Collection: NGJ

Renee Cox – The Red Coat (2004), Collection: NGJ

The current Explorations II: Religion and Spirituality exhibition is organized around six broad, overlapping themes, with a gallery dedicated to each theme. Here is the text panel for the fourth gallery, titled “Spiritual Warriors”:

The work in this gallery reflects on the role of religion and spirituality in local resistance and liberation movements, especially during the colonial period.

Religion and spirituality played a critical role in the fight against slavery throughout the Americas. In Jamaica, Nanny of the Maroons, had charismatic spiritual powers which she used to empower her followers in guerrilla warfare against the colonial authorities. Similarly, Tacky, the leader of the 1760 rebellion, was an Obeah Man and it is worth noting that Boukman Dutty, who presided over the Vodou ceremony at Bois Cayman that marked the start of the Haitian Revolution in 1791, was from Jamaica. These rebel leaders are symbolically represented in this exhibition by Renee Cox’s The Red Coat, which provides a contemporary interpretation of the figure of Nanny, in which the artist herself adopts Nanny’s persona and in a poignant act of defiance, wears the red coat of the colonial militia.

Kapo - Bogle - small

Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds – Paul Bogle (1952), Larry Wirth Collection, NGJ

In the late 18th century, the Baptist, Methodist and Moravian Church established missions in Jamaica and became actively involved in the Abolitionist movement. These new religious movements gained significant popular support and interacted with African-derived religious traditions. Out of this came several resistance leaders, such as Sam Sharpe, the leader of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in western Jamaica, and in the post-slavery area, Paul Bogle, the leader of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion. Both were Deacons in the Baptist Church. Bogle is represented in this exhibition by a 1952 carving by Kapo, who opted to represent him as one “who threw a stone at the establishment,” the final maquette of Edna Manley’s controversial Bogle monument (1965) and a 2010 poster by Michael Thompson, who represents Bogle as a modern revolutionary.

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