On Thursday, March 29, 2018, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation at 1:30 pm. This event will function as a reflection on our most recent exhibitions Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Explorations VI: Engaging Abstraction, which ran from December 19, 2017 to March 25, 2018. The discussion will be moderated by independent writer and curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and will feature Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence and Assistant Curator, Monique Barnett-Davidson, curators of the latest installments in the National Gallery’s Explorations exhibition series which was initiated in 2013.
Portraits in Dialogue examined the significance and conflicted politics of artistic portraiture in the development of Jamaican art from the 18th century to the present, looking at issues such as race, class, gender, as well as the ideas about art and the artist that are reflected in the portrait. Engaging Abstraction examined abstraction as a modern image making approach that deviates from the more literal and popularized representational choices practiced by artists from Jamaica, the Caribbean and its Diaspora. The significant impact of abstraction on Jamaican and Caribbean art can seen in our collection which features numerous works of art that qualify as abstract, or at least as abstracted.
The exhibitions presented the foundations of two distinct yet dominant groups of representational choices practiced by artists, choices that can still be observed in contemporary artwork. Whether treated as separate disciplines or hybridized through a plethora of media, contemporary artists essentially make one of the two choices to explore an immense diversity of subject matter which include the social, the corporeal or the philosophical. The curators of the National Gallery of Jamaica have reflected upon these concepts and ideas throughout some of its most recent and successful exhibitions and felt that the next edition of the Explorations series should explore these trends as historical continuities that are evidenced in our national collection.
The public forum Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation is free and open to the public. Brochures for the exhibitions will be on sale in the National Gallery Gift Shop.
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for March will feature a special performance by Tribe Sankofa, presenting from their repertoire: A Tribe Ting. Their production will also include a performance by special guest Jamila Falak. Visitors will have a last opportunity to view our exhibitions Portraits in Dialogue and Engaging Abstraction, both, part of our Explorations series before they close.
Tribe Sankofa is a performing arts collective brought together by Fabian Thomas and comprised of multi-talented performers. This vibrant and eclectic collective combines their artistry to add an exciting new dimension to the performing arts landscape both locally and globally. Their niche, as described by founder Thomas is seen as “…borrowed and original spoken word/poetry, soulful song styling blended with other visual and performing arts.”
The National Gallery’s Explorations V and VI are part of an open ended series of exhibitions that examine major themes and issues in Jamaica’s art and visual culture. Exploration V: Portraits in Dialogue, examines through visual juxtaposition, the complicated and often times political significance of portraiture in Jamaican art. Exploration VI: Engaging Abstraction, offers a look into abstraction as a modern and contemporary image-making approach, of which up until the 1960’s, was considered contradictory to ideas of representation. The significant impact of abstraction on Jamaica and Caribbean art can be seen in our collection which features numerous works of art that qualify as abstract, or at least abstracted.
As is customary for our Sunday programmes, the doors will open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm, with Tribe Sankofa’s performance at 1:30 pm. Admission is free and free guided tours will be also be available to. Our Gift and Coffee shop will also be open for business and contributions to the donation box will be welcomed. The revenue from our Gift shop and donation box help to fund programmes such as our Explorations series as well as our Last Sundays programming.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce that due to popular demand, we will be extending the exhibitions Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Explorations VI: Engaging Abstraction until March 25, 2018.
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for February will feature a musical performance by Sonnette McKenzie, known to the musical fraternity as Sonnishea. The exhibitions Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Exploration VI: Engaging Abstraction will also be on view.
February 25 will also mark the reopening of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s A.D. Scott Collection. Ainsworth David Scott O.D. (A.D. Scott) was a steadfast collector of Jamaican art. He founded the Olympia International Art Centre and played a pivotal role in the formalization of the National Gallery through service as both the board director and as a benefactor. A.D. Scott believed strongly in the inclusion of art in business and that the visual arts could further cultural development. The works in this collection offer insight into the Post-Independence Jamaican Art Movement and the works on display are a selection of the sixty-two donated to the National Gallery from his personal collection . Some of the artists included in the collection are Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, Eugene Hyde, Alvin Marriott, Karl Parboosingh and Barrington Watson.
Barrington Watson – Athlete’s Nightmare II (1966), A.D. Scott Collection: NGJ
This Sunday’s performer, Sonnishea, is a talented singer, songwriter and poet, whose love of music spans multiple genres. She began singing at the age of five on the children’s choir of her local church, of which her parents were the directors. She was part of Glenmuir High School’s winning Junior Festival Choir in 2005 and 2007 and went on to sing lead in several performances of the Glenmuir Choir. Sonnishea then joined The Quilt Performing Arts Company where she was provided a platform to not only expand her talents but to touch a multitude of audiences. She is now a member of the UWI Classical and Jazz Ensemble and has performed in their 2016 and 2017 season shows. This Last Sunday opening will mark Sonnishea’s debut as an independent performer and she looks forward to where this new path may lead her.
Doors will be open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; Sonnishea’s performance will begin at 1:30 p.m and, as is customary on Last Sundays, admission and guided tours are free. The Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business, with food, drink and unique locally made items for purchase. There is a donations box and any contributions will be appreciated. Donations are used to help fund exhibitions and programmes such as our Explorations series and Last Sundays events.
As part of our programming for Black History Month, the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will be hosting a special event on Saturday February 17, 2018, at 1:30 pm entitled 21ST Century Kapo. Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds is considered to be Jamaica’s foremost Intuitive artists; and the newly reinstalled gallery features a selection of sculptures and paintings from the Larry Wirth Collection, the John Pringle Collection and the Aaron and the Marjorie Matalon Collection. The works in these galleries showcase the broad subject matter and iconography that Kapo explored and highlight the cultural significance of this artist.
The Kapo Gallery – which is one of only two NGJ galleries that are dedicated to single artists – was reopened on January 28 after being closed for almost a year; 21st Century Kapo will give the public an opportunity to learn more about this artist and engage in a discussion of his legacy and relevance to Jamaicans today.
21ST Century Kapo will feature a special screening of the archival film, Kapo the Artist, which first aired on BBC TWO in 1986. In it Kapo speaks about his life and work as an artist and Revivalist leader, it features commentary by Dr. David Boxer, Professor Rex Nettleford and Ambassador Dudley Thompson among others. The screening will be followed by a short, candid discussion between Dr. Clinton Hutton, Professor of Caribbean Political Philosophy, Culture and Aesthetics (University of the West Indies, Mona) and NGJ Senior Curator, O’Neil Lawrence.
Attendance to 21ST Century Kapo is free of cost and is open to the public. Visitors are being encouraged to view the newly reinstalled galleries prior to the beginning of the discussion.
Dr Donna McFarlane O.D.
The National Gallery of Jamaica was deeply saddened by news of the passing of our colleague, the scholar, curator and activist, Dr Donna McFarlane O.D. last week.
A true visionary, Dr McFarlane was the first Director/ Curator of our sister museum Liberty Hall: Legacy of Marcus Garvey. In Garvey’s time, the Liberty Hall was a meeting place for the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). The property hosted a range of cultural and intellectual programmes in its heyday. Eventually the property left UNIA hands and was owned by several individuals until it was purchased by the Government of Jamaica, through the Heritage Trust and declared a National Monument in 1987. Always a passionate advocate for civil rights and African and Diasporic empowerment; Dr McFarlane had returned to Jamaica after completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Masters in Developmental Economics. She worked for the Government of Jamaica and was also a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and other development financing agencies. She was however never far from the activities of the Cultural sector.
The Liberty Hall reopened in 2003, as a living monument to the legacy of Marcus Garvey and it was Dr McFarlane who spearheaded the development of the ground-breaking Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum. The museum – which was the only one of its kind in the Caribbean – utilized interactive technology to teach about the life, ideals and still-relevant messages of Jamaica’s first National Hero. The introduction of this type of technology into the museum experience was meant to make Garvey’s treasure trove of wisdom attractive and accessible, especially to Jamaican youth. Under her directorship the Liberty Hall was transformed into a centre of learning.
She later completed her master’s and PhD in museum studies and applied her knowledge to the improvement of the facilities and services of the museum. Dr McFarlane aligned the activities and programming of the Liberty Hall with Garvey’s famous quote: “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, no one but ourselves can free the mind…” In addition to its museum, she also established the Garvey Multimedia Computer Centre; the Garvey Research/Reference Library; and Community Outreach programmes that include Adult Computer Literacy class, Garvey After-School Programme, and Summer Art programming.
The Board of Directors and the Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica wish to extend our deepest condolences to the Family and friends of Dr Donna McFarlane.
Her spirit and legacy will live on.