Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Michael Elliott

Michael Elliott – The Aviary Strain (2016)

Michael Elliott’s contributions to the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be viewed at the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston Waterfront.

Michael Elliott was born in 1979, in Manchester, Jamaica. He attended the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where he attained a Diploma in Painting (2002). A regular exhibitor both locally and internationally, he was featured in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s acclaimed Young Talent V exhibition in 2010 and has participated in several National Biennials and the Jamaica Biennial 2014. Elliott is known for photo-based, hyper-realist still life paintings that explore socio-political issues in local and international affairs, often with biting sarcasm. He lives in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Website: www.studiomichaelelliott.com

Michael Elliott – Amnesia (2016)

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Rex Dixon

Rex Dixon – Flowers for Cecil (2016)

Rex Dixon has exhibited in the National Gallery’s biennials and annual national exhibitions for many years. He is again represented in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 and his work can be seen at the National Gallery in Kingston until May 28.

Rex Dixon was born in 1939, in London, England. He attended the School of Art in Newton Abbot, the Stourbridge College of Art and the School of Art Education in Birmingham. He has lectured at the Stourbridge College and the New University of Ulster in Belfast. In 1985, he joined the faculty at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and served as the Head of the Painting Department between 1991 and 1993. Primarily an abstractionist, Dixon has been a regular participant in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Annual National and Biennial exhibitions. Recent solo exhibitions include Seventeen Colours (2010) held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Trinidad Perspective: New Paintings by Rex Dixon (2013), held in South Belfast, Northern Ireland. Dixon currently resides in St Joseph, Trinidad.

More on Rex Dixon here.

Rex Dixon – September Song (2016)

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Carol Crichton

Carol Crichton – Logwood to Marcus (2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 continues until May 28 at the National Gallery of Jamaica and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. Carol Crichton’s work is featured at the National Gallery in Kingston.

Carol Crichton was born in 1943, in Kingston, Jamaica. She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, USA. Since the 1970s she has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, locally and internationally. Notable exhibitions include the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, as well as Curator’s Eye II (2006) and Curator’s Eye III (2009) and Materializing Slavery (2008), also held at the National Gallery of Jamaica. In 2016, she participated in the Going Green show at the Grosvenor Galleries and held a solo show at the Olympia Gallery entitled Carol Crichton Paintings. Her work has been featured in major publications on Jamaican Art, including The Art of Jamaica, A Prelude (2010) by Wayne Lawrence, and is part of several major public and private collections. Crichton lives in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Website: http://carolcrichton.com/

Carol Crichton – Structure (2017)

Last Sundays – March 26, 2016: feat. the Jamaica Biennial 2017 and BLACKasCOLE

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for March 26, 2017, will feature the Jamaica Biennial 2017 and a special musical performance by BLACKasCOLE.

Fronted by songstress Cecile Black, BLACKasCOLE’s performance style is a fusion of different genres: Alternative, Blues, Gospel, R&B, Reggae/Dub-Rock which they have integrated into a base component of Reggae and Dub; the result is a new genre that the band calls Jam-on-Dub. The band emerged from the UWI Pop society at the Mona campus and has been in existence for three years now. Its goal is to “to ignite your hearts with conscious uplifting messages of truth and love.” BLACKasCOLE performs mostly original material and cover versions are usually interpretations of songs with personal significance. The band has graced a number of stages performing several times at the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival and venues such as Red Bones Blues Cafe’; Jamnesia; and Plug ‘n’ Play at the Jonkanoo Lounge of the Wyndham Hotel, to name a few. Their last performance at the National Gallery, three years ago, was extremely well received by our audience and we are particularly pleased to welcome back BLACKasCOLE, for what is guaranteed to be a phenomenal Last Sundays appearance.

Visitors will be able to view the critically acclaimed Jamaica Biennial 2017 which opened in late February 2017 at three locations: the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston waterfront, Devon House in New Kingston and National Gallery West in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay. Featuring a diverse mix of locally and overseas based artists, some of them well known and others emerging or new, the 2017 edition of the Jamaica Biennial reflects the vitality of the Jamaican art scene and the complex global dynamics that shape the art of the Caribbean region today. As was first done in 2014, the Jamaica Biennial features six specially invited international artists, from the Caribbean and its Diaspora—Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Raquel Paiewonsky, Marcel Pinas, Nadia Huggins at the National Gallery of Jamaica; Andrea Chung at Devon House; and David Gumbs at National Gallery West—and the exhibition also includes two special tributes to noted Jamaican artists—Alexander Cooper and Peter Dean Rickards, both of which can be viewed at the National Gallery of Jamaica. The exhibition includes work in conventional media and styles as well as more experimental work in digital and other contemporary media, including several mixed media installations. The largest and arguably the most ambitious such exhibition staged to date by the National Gallery, the Jamaica Biennial runs at all three locations until May 28, 2017.

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, March 26, 2017 and the programme will start at 1:30 pm. As is customary for Last Sundays, admission will be free at the National Gallery of Jamaica’s downtown Kingston location and there will also be free tours of the Jamaica Biennial 2017. The Devon House location will also be exceptionally from 11 am to 4 pm and National Gallery West will be open from 9 am to 5 pm. Regular admission rates will apply at both National Gallery West and at Devon House.

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Margaret Chen

Margaret Chen – Cross Section of Curve (2016), mixed media installation

Margaret Chen’s work in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston. The exhibition continues until May 28.

Margaret Chen was born in 1951, in St Catherine, Jamaica. A sculpture and installation artist, she attended the Jamaican School of Art (now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts) where she obtained a Diploma in Sculpture with distinction (1976). Later, she attained a BFA with honours (1984) and an MFA (1986) at York University, Ontario, Canada. Notable exhibitions include her solo show Ovoid (2003) at the Mutual Gallery in Kingston and the About Change exhibition (2011), organized by the World Bank at the IDB Gallery, Washington DC, USA. She was artist in residence at the Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art (2000) and the Vermont Studio Centre (2002), both in the USA. In 2005, Chen was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and Toronto, Canada.

Website: http://www.margaretchensculptor.com/

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Guide to the Devon House Interventions

We present additional information on the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition at Devon House. This document will also be available as a free handout at Devon House. Opening hours there are Mo-Fri 9:30 to 4:30 and on the last Sundays of the month from 11 to 4. Admission rates apply. All Jamaica Biennial exhibitions continue until May 28.


As was first done in 2014, the Jamaica Biennial 2017 is shown at more than one location. In addition to the National Gallery itself, where the main exhibition is held, parts of the exhibition are shown at Devon House, which was the National Gallery’s original home in 1974, and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay.

For Devon House, we selected five interventions by artists whose work resonates with the history and context of Devon House, particularly its dual connection to Jamaica’s plantation heritage and to social change, as the great house was built in 1881 by Jamaica’s first black millionaire. The selected work is by Andrea Chung, Laura Facey, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Sharon Norwood, Deborah Anzinger and Leasho Johnson. All are displayed in the Devon House interior. Some of these interventions are immediately and provocatively visible, while the others are more subtle and may at first be mistaken as being part of the original furnishings. This makes the process of discovery and engagement involved in viewing the Jamaica Biennial 2016 exhibition at Devon House all the more exciting.

Leasho Johnson, In-a-the-Middle

Location: The Palm Hall

In-a-the-Middle is a mixed-media sculptural floor piece that parodies a dancehall party, or more specifically, a “daggering session.” It is comprised of locally made metal ‘dutch’ pots, cast from scrap metal, fluorescent red paint with papier mâchè and ceramic castings of speakers and legs. The title is a derivative of a dancehall song, Inna The Middle performed by ZJ Liquid, which in the local context is referred to as a “gyal song” – that is, a song that speaks mainly to female party-goers. The “dutch” pot in Jamaican culture is a multi-purpose item and is commonly found in most Jamaican homes.

In-a-the-Middle explores female objectification and the male gaze within dancehall culture, compared with a perspective of the woman as nourishment giver, bread winner and home maker, symbolized in part by the use of the “dutch pot.” He states, “I was trying to describe a kind of negative space that is misogynistic [and] that surrounds a female described space… women becoming the weak default of a culture that puts its men on the podium of social ideals”.

(Photo: Randy Richards)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, The Table (Parallel Realities Dwelling in the Heartland of My People)

Location: The Dining Room

Awarded the Aaron Matalon Award

The Table (Parallel Realities Dwelling in the Heartland of My People) presents an account of the social, historical and cultural realities of slavery, using various materials and objects. It is set up with a sharp juxtaposition between the indigenous world of Nature, Veve and Taino, against that of Empire with all its assumptions of beauty and civilized behaviour. The Tea Table is laid with fineries like crystal, silverware and China. It lays bare notions of civility in harmony with plunder, murder, rape and genocide, as in the case of the Parsley Massacre in the Dominican Republic in 1937 with its dismembered figures and pools of blood. Historically, the establishment of this Euro-centric status quo has been challenged. This is symbolized in the use of the ‘abeng’, a symbol of subversion by the Maroons as a counter narrative force which disrupts and displaces the genteel setting, celebrating the human capacity for resilience and survival.”

Continue reading