Jamaica Biennial 2017: Call for Submissions – Juried Section

Jamaica Biennial 2016 - Call for submissions

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to invite submissions for the juried section of upcoming Jamaica Biennial, which will now be held from February 26 to May 28, 2017 and will thus be the Jamaica Biennial 2017.

The Jamaica Biennial, previously known as the National Biennial, is the National Gallery’s flagship biennial exhibition. Designed to encourage the development of art in Jamaica and its local and international exposure, the Jamaica Biennial includes works of art in all media and genres by a wide variety of artists who enter the exhibition through the jury system or by special invitation. The juried section is open to all artists resident in Jamaica and of immediate Jamaican descent, irrespective of residence. While thus mainly focused on the Jamaican and Jamaican Diaspora artists, the exhibition now also includes a select number of specially invited Caribbean and other international artists. The exhibition will be shown at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston; National Gallery West in Montego Bay; and other venues to be announced.

The new deadline for submissions by juried artists is now Monday, December 12, 2016. Relevant documents can be downloaded here: the Jamaica Biennial 2017, and the Jamaica Biennial 2017 – entry form. Please email <info@natgalja.org.jm> or call (876) 922-1561 or -3 if you have any questions or need to discuss your submission.

Letters to the invited artists are being dispatched.

Electronic submissions should be sent to <info@natgalja.org.jm>, directly or, in case of large files, via a reliable file transfer service such as WeTransfer. Please use “Jamaica Biennial 2017” and the name of the artist in the subject header for all electronic submissions.


Last Sundays, August 28, 2016 – feat. Kingston and Jane Macgizmo

Last Sundays - August 28,2016

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for August 28, 2016, will feature a musical performance by Jane Macgizmo and guided tours of the recently opened Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition.

Denieze Anderson, popularly known as Jane Macgizmo, is a recording artiste, songwriter, producer & designer. Jane’s artistic passion was instilled at the age of seven by her parents who encouraged her to take music and art classes. She studied film production at Northern Caribbean University and also became a designer & photographer, both of which have aided her music career. Her second release “Babylon” quickly became an anthem to her supporters, as it captures the enticing and defiant nature of Jane’s music. It was the music video for this song, set in lush green scenery high in the mountains, filmed, directed, and edited by Jane and Tricia Bent that truly brought the message of the song to life and it has been in regular rotation on BET SOUL. The record label Zincfence Records has also released a dubmix of “Babylon.” Jane’s inventive persona is what propels her works, without boundaries and across genres such as dubtronica, indie reggae, jazz and EDM. The fearless creative has a catalogue of exciting music, stimulating visuals, and confident messages in preparation for the world to experience.

Jane Macgizmo

Jane Macgizmo

Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art is the first instalment of a two-part exhibition series that explores the role of Kingston in the development of Jamaican art and, conversely, the role of art in the development of the city of Kingston. The present edition of Kingston features artists such as Isaac Mendez Belisario, Carl Abrahams, Hope Brooks, Edna Manley, Cecil Baugh, Kapo, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Roy Reid, and Stanford Watson and the iconic Jamaican feature film The Harder They Come (1972, dir. Perry Henzell). The exhibition examines how Jamaica’s turbulent but culturally fertile capital city has generated many of the circumstances and opportunities that have propelled the development of Jamaican art over time, from the natural resources to the economic activities and institutions. It also explores how artists have been inspired in their work by the events, personalities and tales that have defined life in the city, starting with the 1692 destruction of Port Royal, which led to the establishment of the city. Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art was curated by National Gallery Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson and continues until October 30, 2016.

Carl Abrahams - The Destruction of Port Royal (1972), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

Carl Abrahams – The Destruction of Port Royal (1972), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, August 28, 2016 and the musical programme will start at 1:30 pm. As is customary, admission and guided tours will be free for the day, but contributions to the National Gallery’s donations box are always welcome. The National Gallery gift and coffee shops will also be open and proceeds from these ventures help to fund programmes such as Last Sundays and exhibitions such as Kingston.

National Gallery of Jamaica Congratulates Dr David Boxer, Other Associates on their National Honours

Dr the Hon. David Boxer, OJ, with artist Hope Brooks, at the conferment ceremony at his home on August 9, 2016

Dr the Hon. David Boxer, OJ, with artist Hope Brooks, at the conferment ceremony at his home on August 9, 2016

The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica wish to express their delight at the announcement that the following artists and associates of the National Gallery are among the recipients of the 2016 National Honours, which were announced on Independence Day, August 6. They are: Dr David Boxer, CD, who is conferred with the Order of Jamaica; Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson, QC, Cecil Cooper, and Basil Watson, who are receiving the Order of Distinction (Commander class); and Alexander Cooper, who is receiving the Order of Distinction (Officer rank).

Dr David Wayne Boxer, CD is an eminent Jamaican art historian, curator, artist and collector. He was educated at Cornell University and the Johns Hopkins University, where he obtained his PhD in Art History. Dr Boxer joined the National Gallery of Jamaica in 1975 as Director/Curator and held this position until 1991, when he became Chief Curator. He retired from the National Gallery in 2013. During Dr Boxer’s tenure, the National Gallery developed from a fledgling institution to what is now the largest and most prominent national art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean, with an extensive collection of Jamaican and other art and an active and diverse exhibitions programme. Dr Boxer is widely recognized for his scholarship on Jamaican art, particularly on the work of Edna Manley, the Intuitives and early Jamaican photography, on which he has published extensively. Dr Boxer is also an internationally recognized artist, whose mixed media work addresses postcolonial politics and existential angst by means of complex references to art history and visual culture. Dr Boxer is conferred with the Order of Jamaica for his “invaluable contribution to the National Gallery of Jamaica and the development of Jamaican art.” He was previously conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander class), and is also the recipient of the Gold Musgrave and Centenary Medals of the Institute of Jamaica. Dr Boxer, who has been ailing, received the Order of Jamaica today, Tuesday, August 9, at a special ceremony at his home.

Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson, CD, QC, Chairman of the NGJ

Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson, CD, QC, Chairman of the NGJ

Senator Thomas George Lewis Tavares-Finson, QC, is a noted Jamaican politician, attorney-at-law and art collector. He was educated at McMaster University; the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London; and the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. Senator Tavares-Finson has been a nominated commissioner of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica since 2006 and previously served as a member of the Electoral Advisory Committee from 2005-2006. Senator Tavares-Finson is presently the President of the Senate and was called to the Inner Bar earlier this year. He was recently appointed as the Chairman of the National Gallery and had also previously served on its Board. Senator Tavares-Finson is conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander class) for his “distinguished contribution to the Electoral Commission and the legal profession.”

Cecil Cooper at his studio in November 2015 (photograph courtesy of Donnette Zacca)

Cecil Cooper, CD, at his studio in November 2015 (photograph courtesy of Donnette Zacca)

Cecil Harvey Cooper is a noted and influential Jamaican painter, art educator and singer. Cecil Cooper was educated at the Jamaica School of Art, now the Edna Manley College, and also attended that Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He served as the head of the Painting department of the Edna Manley College from 1981 to his retirement in 2009. He has exhibited widely in Jamaica and internationally and his work is represented in major art collections, including the National Gallery of Jamaica collection. Cecil Cooper is also a classical tenor, renowned for his powerful voice and operatic delivery. He has previously served as a Board member of the National Gallery of Jamaica and was recently reappointed to the Board. Cecil Cooper is conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander class) for his “invaluable contribution to the arts.”

Basil Watson CD

Basil Watson, CD

Basil Barrington Watson is an internationally recognized Jamaican sculptor who was educated at what is now the Edna Manley College. Basil Watson, who is also a superb draughtsman, is acclaimed for his daringly balanced, dynamic depictions of the human form. His many public and private art commissions in Jamaica including the statues of Merlene Ottey and Herb McKenley at the National Stadium; the sculpture “Balance” at the Doctors Cave Bathing Club in Montego Bay; and various sculpture commissions for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, including “Emerging Nation” in Holruth Park. Mr  Watson has previously served on the National Gallery Board. He is the son of the late Prof. the Hon. Barrington Watson, OJ, Jamaican master painter. Basil Watson is conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander class) for his “outstanding contribution in the field of Jamaican art.”

Alexander Cooper, OD, at this studio

Alexander Cooper, OD, at this studio

Joshua Alexander Cooper is a major Jamaican painter who emerged during the Independence period. He was an early student of the then Jamaica School of Art and Craft in the 1950s and also attended the New York School of Visual Art and the Art Student League. While his diverse oeuvre also includes gestural abstractions, Alexander Cooper is today best known for his whimsical depictions of street life in Downtown Kingston in times past. Mr Cooper has previously served on the National Gallery Board. Alexander Cooper is receiving the Order of Distinction (Officer rank) for his “outstanding contribution to the arts.”

The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica extend their heartfelt congratulations to Dr David Boxer, Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, Cecil Cooper, Basil Watson and Alexander Cooper on their well-earned National Honours.

Kingston: Stories to Tell

Here is the final of our features on the Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition:

In addition to concrete structures and infrastructures, stories from the documented and lived experiences of generations of Kingston inhabitants and visitors, contribute to this city’s character, to its celebrity and its infamy. The events, personalities and tales that have shaped this city are part of its collective imagery and have provided major inspiration for artists, some of whom are themselves among the city’s key personalities. A variety of stories have already been explored in the preceding galleries. However, this section focuses on a distinct selection of narratives that are particularly relevant to Kingston events and experiences.

Kingston and its environs have been the sites of some of the deadliest natural disasters in human history and this has been recognized and recorded by documenters and artists alike. The apocalyptic destruction of Port Royal in 1692, was re-imagined by Carl Abrahams in several works produced in the mid-1970s. The 1907 earthquake which almost obliterated Kingston is memorialized forever by several archival photographs from the period which can be found at institutions such as the National Library of Jamaica, another Downtown Kingston institution situated on East Street. Despair in the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie, the deadliest storm of 1951, is expressed in two oil paintings created in the same year by poet and playwright Roger Mais, and his seemingly broken and dejected figures are almost camouflaged within the debris left in the storm’s wake, becoming one with the devastation.

Several works in this section comment critically on the social life of Kingston. The works of Roy Reid, Edna Manley and later, Stanford Watson and Ikem Smith for instance, question ongoing issues of social inequality, economic downturn, violence and civil unrest. Michael Parchment’s No Woman Nuh Cry (2005), a visualization of the 1975 reggae ballad of the same name performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers, reiterates that critical value of endurance in the face of adversity and atrocity resulting from the wave of violence that permeated Jamaica’s inner-cities in the 1970s. Interestingly, the reggae music and the visual arts communities have benefitted greatly from the creative insights of personages like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and a number of other Jamaican musicians, many of whom originated from Kingston or migrated to the city to seek their fortune at Kingston’s active entertainment scene and recording studios. It was in Kingston at the National Stadium on Arthur Wint Drive that the historic One Love Peace Concert took place in April 1978. The concert took place during the climax of a deadly political war between gang supporters of the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Jamaican photographer Howard Moo-Young captures on film the most memorable highlight of the show, when Bob Marley during his performance of the song Jammin invited the two political leaders to the stage—the then Prime Minister Michael Manley of the People’s National Party and the then Leader of the Opposition, Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party–and encouraged them to join hands before the audience as a symbolic gesture towards peace and unity.

Continue reading

Kingston: Institutions and Collections

Phannel Toussiant - National gallery of Jamaica, Devon House (rgb)

Phannel Toussaint – National gallery Ballroom, Devon House (1980), Collection: NGJ

Here is another feature on the Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition:

As we speak of “crossroads” and opportunities, we have to recognize that Kingston is also the centre of cultural infrastructure in Jamaica. This includes the two main visual arts institutions, the Edna Manley College and the National Gallery of Jamaica, and several major corporate art collections. Jamaica’s main private art collections are also located in Kingston. This Kingston-centeredness is slowly changing as governmental and corporate authorities as well as other private interests have been employing strategies to de-centralize the infrastructural dominance of Kingston. The 2014 establishment of the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, which houses the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Montego Bay branch National Gallery West, is one such example. That being said, this section of the exhibition acknowledges a selection of those Kingston-based entities that have been key pillars for the development of visual art practice and promotion in Jamaica, and have also contributed to urban development and renewal.

Devon House

Sidney McLaren – Devon House (1979), Collection: NGJ

The Institute of Jamaica, which was established in 1879, is the oldest cultural institution in Jamaica and has been pivotal in the development of national art exhibition programming and art educational opportunities, especially from the 1930s to the present. The National Gallery of Jamaica has its origins in the pioneering art collecting and exhibition programmes of the Institute and presently operates as one of its divisions. Established in 1974 at Devon House on Hope Road and then relocated to the Roy West Building on the Kingston Waterfront in 1982, the National Gallery of Jamaica functions as the custodian of carefully developed collections of Jamaican art, representing more than ten centuries of artistic history in our country. Other Institute of Jamaica divisions that have been involved in the visual arts are the Junior Centre and the National Library of Jamaica, before the latter attained autonomy. The Junior Centre hosted Edna Manley’s seminal free adult art classes that started in 1939 and served as a meeting place for the members of the emerging nationalist school, and it continues to offer children’s art programmes today.

Whitney Miller - Little North Street (rgb)

Whitney Miller – Little North Street (1963), Collection: Edna Manley College

Continue reading

Kingston: Art on the Streets

Here is another feature on the themes that structure the Kingston – Part 1: The City and Art exhibition, written by the exhibition curator, Monique Barnett-Davidson:

A simple bus commute or walking tour of the city can bring one into an even more direct engagement with Kingston’s artistic heritage. Street and public art proliferate in the city, whether as officially commissioned statues, monuments and murals, or more informal expressions on community walls, vehicles or vending stalls. These works are experienced on a daily basis by the people who use, traverse, relax or congregate around these spaces and often command their surroundings as iconic landmarks.

As Jamaica’s capital, Kingston is home to a number of public monuments. Their narratives reflect memories of historic triumph, expressions of hope in the face of adversity, or simply reflection in the wake of tragedy; exemplified by Edna Manley’s Negro Aroused sculpture, the monuments of the National Heroes Park, and the Secret Gardens monument, which are all located in Downtown Kingston. Secret Gardens was commissioned by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, the local government authority, to commemorate children who die under tragic or violent circumstances and the local media recently reported that no more space was left to add further names—a very sad reflection of the vulnerability of children in Jamaican society.

Continue reading