“Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica” to open at National Gallery’s on Last Sundays on May 27, 2018

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for the month of May will mark the opening of a new exhibition Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica. It will also feature a special ensemble musical performance as part of Lupus Awareness month activities.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica complements the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition which opened on April 29.This retrospective of Dunkley’s work was curated by independent curator Diana Nawi, formerly of the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), and Nicole Smythe-Johnson, independent Jamaican curator and writer. Originally shown at PAMM in 2017, this version includes six works that were not part of that initial exhibition.

John Dunkley – Diamond Wedding (1940), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica (Gift of Cassie Dunkley)

This new exhibition Daylight Come… explores themes such as tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism in Jamaica during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition provides further context to Dunkley’s creative output; exploring the works of his contemporaries David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr, Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, David Pottinger, Ralph Campbell and Henry Daley among others. This exhibition will be on view until July 29, 2018.

The Millers in 1964

May is Lupus Awareness Month and the special musical performance this Last Sundays serves as one of the activities to raise awareness to this life-altering disease. The music, poetry and dance that will be performed are all inspired by the emotional states experienced by someone with Lupus. The various performers include members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica, the Jamaica Youth Chorale, the Porter Centre for Knowledge and The Music House.

Edna Manley – Prayer/Kneeling Figure, (1937)

As is now customary for our Sunday programmes, the doors will be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm and the special musical performance starts at 1:30 pm. Admission and guided tours will be free. The gift and coffee shop will also be open for business.

 

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Last Sundays February 25, 2018 to feature Sonnishea

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.

Sonnishea

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.

 

Religion and Spirituality: Introduction to the Exhibition

Carl Abrahams - Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah (c1965), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

Carl Abrahams – Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah (c1965), AD Scott Collection, NGJ

Here is the second text panel for the Explorations II: Religion and Spirituality exhibition:

Religion and spirituality play a pervasive role in virtually all aspects of Jamaican history and life and are, not surprising, a prominent theme and source of inspiration in Jamaican art. While predominantly Christian, with a large number of traditional and non-traditional denominations, Jamaica is also the birthplace of Rastafari and earlier African-derived forms – Revival and Kumina being two of the most well-known.  Other world religions are also represented in Jamaica, namely Judaism, Hinduism and the Islam, as small but at times influential minorities, and there are also traditional and new spiritual beliefs and practices that do not fit any of these labels.

Clinton Brown - Drum (1970), Collection: NGJ

Clinton Brown – Drum (1970), Collection: NGJ

Religion has at times served as an instrument of social control and oppression, especially during the colonial period, but the diverse religious and spiritual practices found in Jamaica have also served as potent tools for liberation and self-assertion. These counterhegemonic roles have greatly contributed to the richness, diversity and ideological assertiveness of the associated cultural production, as is most evident in Jamaican music but also in dance and in the visual culture. Visual expressions have been an integral part of many religious and spiritual practices on the island and this has in itself produced some of the most outstanding examples of Jamaican art. The work of artists such as Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds and Everald Brown was, for instance, directly linked to their role as religious leaders, in Zion Revival and religious Rastafari, respectively, and included the production of sacred objects and images.

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Jamaica’s Art Pioneers: Carl Abrahams (1911-2005)

Carl Abrahams - Thirteen Israelites (1975), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

Carl Abrahams – Thirteen Israelites (1975), A.D. Scott Collection, NGJ

Carl Myrie Abrahams was born in St Andrew, Jamaica, in 1911. He was educated at Calabar High School where he received basic art training and, encouraged by his headmaster Reverend Ernest Price, began to study the work of old masters such as Frans Hals and Sir Frederick Leighton.

On leaving school in 1928, Abrahams started his career as a cartoonist, under the tutelage of Cliff Tyrell, one of the pioneering cartoonists in Jamaica. Abrahams soon contributed regularly to local publications such as the Gleaner, the West Indian Review and WISCO magazine. The English painter August John, who visited Jamaica in 1937, encouraged him to take up painting. After three years of service in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Abrahams returned to Jamaica and started painting professionally while also continuing as a cartoonist and illustrator.

Carl Abrahams - Birthday Drive (1972), Collection: NGJ

Carl Abrahams – Birthday Drive (1972), Collection: NGJ

Like John Dunkley, the Jamaican artist whom he most admired and who was an influence, Abrahams was an an individualist who opted not to participate in the art classes that were offered at Institute of Jamaica and, subsequently, the Jamaica School of Art and Craft and kept himself at a remove from the formal and informal artists’ groups that emerged in mid 20th century Jamaica. He essentially taught himself to paint, with the assistance of correspondence courses from England, and charted his own artistic course. It took a while before he found his painterly voice but when he did, he quickly emerged as one of Jamaica’s most original artists who produced ironic transformations of the great mythological and religious themes of the past, surreal commentaries on historical and contemporary events, and bizarre personal fantasies, in varying cartoonesque styles that defy art-historical classification and eccentrically challenge conventional rules of composition and representation.

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