Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Petrona Morrison

Petrona Morrison – Selfie (2017), video still

Petrona Morrison‘s video installation Selfie (2017), is part of the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica, where it can be seen until May 28. It explores the social dynamic, conventions and anxieties around the “selfie” culture.

Petrona Morrison was born in 1954, in Manchester, Jamaica. Morrison studied at MacMasters University in Ontario, Canada, where she attained a BA in Fine Arts and at Howard University, Washington, DC, where she gained her MFA. She recently retired as the Director of the School of Visual Art at the Edna Manley College. Morrison is best known for her work in installation and multimedia art that explores personal and political issues and the intersections between those two. She has exhibited locally and internationally and has participated in several artists’ residencies, including Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1994-1995 and at CCA7 in Trinidad in 2002. Morrison was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal in 1997 and the Gold Musgrave medal in 2014. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Petrona Morrison – Selfie (2017), video still

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Els Meyns

Els Meyns – Horn of Plenty (n.d.)

The illustrated mixed media sculpture by Els Meyns is on view at the National Gallery of Jamaica until May 28 as part of the Jamaica Biennial 2017.

Els Meijns born in 1945, in Wormerveer, The Netherlands. She attended the Gooise Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Laren and the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York. She also studied art restoration at the Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museología (CENCRM) in Havana, Cuba. Meijns lectured part-time at the Jamaica School of Art and later became a full-time lecturer at the institution. She has actively exhibited in Jamaica, Netherlands and the USA and has executed many sculpture commissions locally. Her abstract and representational sculptures in various media can be found in public and private collections worldwide. She currently lives and works in St Mary, Jamaica.

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists 2017: Jag Mehta

Jag Mehta – Done in India (2015)

Jag Mehta’s work can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston until May 28, as part of the Jamaica Biennial 2017.

Jag Mehta was born 1933 in Lahore, Pakistan. He was educated at Cornell University, New York (BSc.) and Columbia University, New York (MBA). He also did part-time studies in Ceramics at Loughborough University of Technology, England; the University of Puerto Rico and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Jamaica, London and Puerto Rico, and has been a regular exhibitor at the National Gallery of Jamaica. He is best known for his organic yet subtly geometric sculptural forms and vessels. He lives in St Ann, Jamaica.

Jag Mehta – Done in China (2015

18th Century Jamaican Painting Auctions for US$80,000

Felsted - cropped

A painting by the Jamaica-born 18th century artist, musician and botanist Samuel Felsted (1743-1802) has just sold at auction for US$ 80,000, or more than Ja$ 10 million, in an auction of American furniture, folk and decorative arts at Freeman’s, the oldest US auction house, based in Philadelphia. The National Gallery of Jamaica had made a bid within the auction house’s estimate of US$ 10-15,000 but was quickly outbid. The lot, a painting titled A North-East View of the House of Mr. Emanuel Lousada, Kingston, Jamaica (1778) went to an as yet unidentified bidder on the floor.

Freeman’s auction web page had the following to say about Feldsted and the painting at auction:

“William Felsted, the father of Samuel Felsted, was an English-born merchant, ironmonger and organist, who arrived in Jamaica in the 1730s, but was in Boston in 1737, petitioning to establish a shop. In 1741, before returning to Jamaica, William Felsted married Joyce Weaver at Christ Church in Philadelphia. Samuel Felsted was born in Jamaica in 1743, was a property owner by the age of 19, and baptized as an Anabaptist in 1763 at the age of 20. He married Maria Laurence, daughter of a plantation owner, in 1770, and they eventually had eight children.”

“In 1771, Felsted was admitted to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia–one of four Jamaicans to be accepted to the organization in the 18th century. In support of his application for membership and due to his interest in botany, Felsted sent drawings of Jamaican butterflies. Dr. James Smith, a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Jamaica, in a letter of support for Felsted’s membership wrote, ‘Mr. Samuel Felsted, an ingenious young Gentleman of good reputation in this Town applied to me for an introduction to the members of your newly established Society, expressing a great desire to become a correspondent; being long convinced of his merit in the three Sister Sciences: Poetry, Painting and Music for which he has natural genius.’ Smith continues, ‘His education has been rather confined, but by great industry and force of native genius, he has recommended himself to the wise and learned of this island.’ After his admission to the Philosophical Society, Felsted sent plans for a horizontal windmill designed to power sugar mills. For most of his life, Felsted was the organist at St. Andrew Parish Church in Kingston, and is best known today as the composer of the first complete oratorio written in the New World– “Jonah,” published in London in 1775.”

“Emanuel Baruh Lousada (1740-1797 or 1807) was a prominent Jewish merchant, land owner and trader in Kingston with family business connections throughout the West Indies and London. Lousada married an English cousin, Esther Lousada, who died in 1775, and later his brother Daniel’s widow, Rachel. The Lousadas traced their ancestry to Granada, Spain and frequently used a Coat-of-Arms as seen in this painting”

The painting is of significant historical interest and the rather static composition is enlivened by an interesting detail, a horse and carriage scene with uniformed black driver and attendant, which more actively references the social dynamics of the 18th century than the depiction of the house in itself. Produced some fifty years before Belisario and Kidd, Felsted’s commissioned painting and his efforts in the field of music also illustrate the early beginnings of professional art practice in Jamaica.


Valerie Facey was instrumental in the redisovery of Felsted’s pioneering oratorio in the late 1980s and her Mill Press reproduced the booklet for Felsted’s Jonah oratorio in 1990. The oratorio was performed at the St Andrew Parish Church on that occasion. As the musicologist Pamela O’Gorman wrote at that time: “There is no excitement quite like that of making a discovery which confounds all one’s preconceived notions, or opens up new areas of knowledge, about an aspect of history that had hitherto been obscure or neglected.” The discovery of the painting at auction today illustrates that Felsted requires further research and attention as a historical figure in Jamaica.

More about Felsted can be read here.

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Bryan McFarlane

Bryan McFarlane – Dark, Like the Weather (c2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 is almost in its last month as it closes on May 28, and is a must-see exhibition. Here is a short feature on Bryan McFarlane, whose two paintings, which are presented as a diptych, and video can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston Waterfront.

Bryan McFarlane – Like the Weather (c2016)

Bryan McFarlane was born in Moore Town, Portland. McFarlane was educated at the Jamaica School of Art and earned a MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art in 1983. He is Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and has previously served as Visiting Professor to a number of institutions including the University of the West Indies and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is currently working on a three year project with research scientists, jointly with EMMAS and TERC, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with a grant from the National Science Foundation. McFarlane has been featured in numerous exhibitions locally and internationally and is well represented in a number of public and private collections. His paintings and mixed media works explore his Maroon heritage, African Diaspora culture and the environmental threats of the Anthropocene. Among his many accolades, McFarlane was awarded a gold medal by the Chinese Government for his entry in the Olympics Fine Arts Exhibition in Beijing in 2008. He was also awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for his contribution to art and art education. Bryan McFarlane lives in the USA and St Andrew, Jamaica.

Website: bryanmcfarlane.net



Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Franz Marzouca

Franz Marzouca – Canoe Nude Series # 7 (2016)

Franz Marzouca’s work in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston until May 28.

Franz Marzouca was born in 1959, Kingston, Jamaica. Marzouca studied photography at TASIS, Switzerland and Barry University in Miami. Since 1982 he has been working as a commercial photographer, executing commissions for major clients in the Caribbean and North America. Marzouca has participated in numerous art shows including the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions of the National Gallery of Jamaica as well as the annual Liguanea Art Festivals. Marzouca lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Website: franzmarzouca.com

Franz Marzouca – Canoe Nude Series # 5 (2016)