Spiritual Yards – Gallery 5: Errol McKenzie

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, continues until January 29, 2017, and explores the spiritual yard tradition in Jamaica, through ten Intuitive artists whose work is steeped in that tradition. The works of art and documentary material in this exhibition were selected from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, a specialized collection of Intuitive Art. Here is the final of our posts on the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Errol McKenzie (b1954) lives in Walderston in the hills of Manchester. His belief system is is based on his very own spiritual concepts. Aspects of his philosophy, for example, hold the moon as “the centre of energy and eternal power” and women as natural-born leaders. Nowhere is this best expressed by him than in the design of his home called Black Moon Island, home of the “Moon Mother”– an organically shaped stone-house which utilizes concrete wood to create a number of interconnected chambers of varying shapes. As an artist, McKenzie’s body of work includes woodcarvings, cemented free forms, stone arrangements and paintings, all of which display surrealistic elements. Similar to other Jamaican self-taught artists like Brother Brown, Errol McKenzie has a fair amount of international acclaim, having been featured in a number of overseas exhibitions as well as in international publications on “outsider art” such as Raw Vision magazine. Locally, McKenzie’s work has been widely exhibited including the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Intuitives series and Redemption Songs: The Self-Taught Artists of Jamaica (1997) organized by the Diggs Gallery, USA. He was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal in Art by the Institute of Jamaica in 1997.

 

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Spiritual Yards – Gallery 4, part 2: Elijah

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, continues until January 29, 2017, and explores the spiritual yard tradition in Jamaica, through ten Intuitive artists whose work is steeped in that tradition. The works of art and documentary material in this exhibition were selected from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, a specialized collection of Intuitive Art. Here is another post on one of the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Elijah (b1952) – Geneva Mais Jarrett became ‘Elijah’ when she was baptised as a young adult. During the baptism, her pastor saw a vision of bands of angels around her along with the biblical prophet Elijah. From that moment, she took on the role of preacher and prophetess, creating the Elijah Tabernacle in her home in the community of Rose Town, Kingston. She consecrated the area by painting most of the outside surfaces of the building, gate and zinc fencing with mural scenes of angels and events of the bible. She also hung painted banners and seals, as well as set up revival basins. Her yard became a safe haven in tough times. She began to create similar scenes on canvas after becoming noticed by a Swiss patron who visited her yard. Later, she had her first exhibition in Switzerland in the early 1990s, including a one-woman show at Musee d’Art Brut in Lausanne. Her works have been featured in several exhibitions including Redemption Songs: The Self-Taught Artists of Jamaica (1997) at the Diggs Gallery, North Carolina USA and the Intuitives III (2006) at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Her work is in the permanent collection of Frost Art Museum, Miami. She closed her Revival yard sometime around 2000 and is believed to now be living and preaching in the USA.

Spiritual Yards – Gallery 4, part 1: Sylvester Stephens

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, continues until January 29, 2017, and explores the spiritual yard tradition in Jamaica, through ten Intuitive artists whose work is steeped in that tradition. The works of art and documentary material in this exhibition were selected from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, a specialized collection of Intuitive Art. Here is another post on one of the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Sylvester Stephens (b1956) was born in Brompton, St Elizabeth. He is known primarily for working with clay, from which he creates a number of forms that can be categorized as either vessels or figurative sculptures. Both these forms are often embellished with writings, such as Biblical quotations or other forms of decorative relief. Stephens, like a number of other self-taught artists of his calibre, actively engages with philosophies of spirituality. According to writers and commentators of his work, this was evident not only in the individual pieces but also in the way that he arranged his studio spaces. Randall Morris, in one account, describes entering Stephens’ roadside studio under a sign that said “Riding into Jerusalem” and further describes walking into a yard organized and decorated with coloured bamboo posts and pedestals upon which Stephens displayed his creations. The work of Sylvester Stephens has been exhibited in a number of group exhibitions, including Redemption Songs: The Self-Taught Artists of Jamaica (1997) at the Diggs Gallery in North Carolina in the USA and Prophets and Messengers (2000) at the Mutual Gallery in Kingston Jamaica, as well as Clay and Fire (2005) and Intuitives III (2006) both held at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Spiritual Yards – Gallery 3: Leonard Daley, William “Woody” Joseph

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, opens on December 11. Here is a post on two more of the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Leonard Daley (c1930-2006) was born in St Catherine. He moved Kingston where he became a part of the urban Rastafari movement. Later in life, he moved back to the hills of St Catherine residing in Wakefield. He worked at a number of jobs including as a cook and a taxi-driver. The paintings of Daley have been dated to as early as the late 1970s, although it is speculated that he may have been producing paintings from much earlier. Daley’s imagery involved a high degree of surrealism that featured densely packed and multi-layered compositions of ghoulish figures and faces, animals and text. He worked on a variety of discarded materials including plywood, hardboard, metal drum lids, pieces of tarpaulin and even shredded canvas. Daley described his artistic process as an automatic response to his own meditations and thoughts, “I close my eyes and I pray a lot. Sometimes tears fall down…Sometimes I sit down and look at the plain wall, and I can’t penetrate it. And so I will use some water in my mouth, and spew it on the wall, and whatever way it dries it comes out as a picture.” Daley participated in many local and international exhibitions, including Fifteen Intuitives (1987) at the National Gallery of Jamaica and New World Imagery: Contemporary Jamaican Art (1995) at the Hayward Gallery, London. He is well represented in a number of private and public collections internationally and locally, including the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica. In 2002, he was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal for Art by the Institute of Jamaica.

William “Woody” Joseph (1919-1998) was born in Castleton, St Mary. At some point in his life, he moved to Stony Hill, St Andrew, where he lived for a while until he built his house in Castleton. He began carving around 1963. One narrative states that he was inspired to carve when he went to a river to heal an injured leg and saw a stick floating in it. He took it as a sign that if he carved the stick, it would assist the healing. From then on, Woody viewed carving as a spiritual service or in his words “capture the heart of justice.” His anthropomorphic and zoomorphic wooden forms were reminiscent of similar forms in African and Taino traditions and demonstrate an imagination that was deeply tied to nature and the spiritual realm. Woody began exhibiting his sculptures sometime around the late 1970s. Notable local and international exhibitions include the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Intuitives series and Redemption Songs: The Self-Taught Artists of Jamaica (1997) organized by the Diggs Gallery, USA. He was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in 1988.

Spiritual Yards – Gallery 2: Errol Lloyd “Powah” Atherton, Vincent Atherton, Everald Brown

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, opens on December 11. Here is a post on three of the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Errol Lloyd “Powah” Atherton (1961-2012) lived in Albany, St Mary. He participated in Kumina-influenced Bongo meetings and had a deep sense of the power of the ancestors. He was also the son of intuitive artist, Vincent Atherton, creating, in Randall Morris’ words, “one of the most powerful yard shows in Jamaica with offertory seals honouring the carvings of his father, Vincent.” In addition to carving, he also painted words on wood and zinc to invoke the ancestors. Powah’s work has been exhibited locally since around 2000, when it was featured in the exhibition Prophets and Messengers, held at the Mutual Gallery in Kingston, Jamaica. His work was also featured in 2008 as a part of the National Biennial, held at the National Gallery of Jamaica. He is represented in a number of private and public collections—local and overseas—including the collection of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.

Vincent Atherton (1924-2007) lived in Albany, St Mary. He worked as a groundskeeper at the Green Castle estate and he had a carving shack on the property. It was during this time that he developed his carving skills, initially focusing on utilitarian wooden items such as axe handles and vases before transitioning into his own conceptual forms, which included effigy figures, amulets, helmets and staffs. A number of these are reminiscent of similar objects carved in Taino and some African traditions. Atherton described the objects as possessing great spiritual power and influence for protecting and guarding or to pacify spiritual forces. In some instances, he carved such objects in response to specific events and phenomena, for example, during the transition into the new millennium in 2000. Several of his sons were also carvers, more importantly, Errol Lloyd Atherton. Vincent Atherton’s work has been exhibited locally, most notably in the exhibition Intuitives III (2006) held at the National Gallery of Jamaica, and has also been widely exhibited in the United States. His work is in the collection of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.

Everald Brown (1917-2003) also called “Brother Brown,” was born in Clarendon as the fifth of seven children and the only son of his parents Robert and Nelly Brown. His mother was a religious Baptist, who influenced him on his spiritual path. In 1946, Brother Brown married Jenny Gray with whom he had ten children. One year later they settled at 82 ½ Spanish Town Road, a yard which housed several religious groups. There he became aware of Rastafari and the Ethiopian Orthodox church, establishing the Assembly of the Living as a self-appointed mission of the latter. Around 1973, as a result increasingly volatile social environment of West Kingston, Brother Brown relocated his family and mission to Murray Mountain in deep rural St Ann. Much of the imagery in his artworks were expressions from his visions. Many of these included mystical depictions of landscapes, animals, plants and other beings of the physical as well as supernatural world. He has become highly regarded for creating a rather diverse complement of highly decorated art and religious objects including paintings, wood carvings and a variety of musical instruments of his own design. According to him, “my painting is not just an expression of what is, but what I would like things to be—what things should be.” His artistic legacy has been maintained to an extent by his children, some of whom are also regarded as established Jamaican artists. In 1973, he was awarded a Silver Musgrave Medal for Art by the Institute of Jamaica. Brother Brown was a frequent exhibitor in numerous local and international. Notable showings include the Intuitives exhibition series of the National Gallery of Jamaica and the most comprehensive posthumous exhibition of his work, The Rainbow Valley: Everald Brown, A Retrospective, organized by the National Gallery of Jamaica in 2004. He is represented in a number of private and public collections, locally and internationally.

Spiritual Yards – Gallery 1: Pastor Winston Brown, Reginald English

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection will be on view at the NGJ from December 11, 2016 to January 29, 2017. Here is the first of a series of short features on the artists in the exhibition, organized according to which gallery their work appears in, and accompanied by rare video footage on each of them, courtesy of Wayne Cox (all rights reserved).

Pastor Winston Brown (1932-2015) was born in Manchester and moved to Hope Bay, Portland, as a young adult. He was employed in Public Works for the Parish Council and later kept a shop. In his spare time, he would visit various churches, sermonizing based on his visions. He built a house just west of Hope Bay, adding on a room at a time. Pastor Brown began with creating assemblages mounted on poles. He painted vibrant floral and abstract design on his walls and on objects outside. On the street, he constructed signs and assemblages with spiritual messages, calling this place the Garden of Eden attraction. He leaned zinc fencing painted with his designs along the slope of the hill across the street. He had a bench there where he would lie down, read his Bible and wave to drivers passing through the Garden of Eden.

Reginald English (1929-1997) was a Jonkunnu performer, who was known for creating painted metal cut-outs depicting Jonkunnu characters and spirit figures he called “whoodies” which he believed lived in the countryside. During the 1980s and 1990s, English created and sold these works of cut-out metal at a stand on the main road just east of Boscobel, St Mary. English often recycled discarded metal to make his figures, which displayed strong gestural characteristics, and he used metallic automotive spray paint to provide vivid and radiant colouring. His work was has been exhibited both locally and overseas, most notably in the exhibitions Prophets and Messengers (2000) and Intuitives III (2006) at the Mutual Gallery in Kingston and National Gallery of Jamaica, as well as the Redemption Songs exhibition in the United States, held in 1997. English also represented in the permanent collection of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.