National Gallery Pays Tribute to Cecil Cooper

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

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

The National Gallery of Jamaica has received the sad news of the passing of the renowned Jamaican painter, singer, and art educator Cecil Harvey Cooper, CD, on the morning of September 15, 2016.

Cecil Cooper was born in the parish of Hanover, Jamaica, in 1946 and was one of the first graduates, in 1966, of the full-time diploma that had been introduced at the Jamaica School of Art under the directorship of Barrington Watson. He also lived in the USA, where he studied and obtained a BFA and, later, an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Cecil Cooper in 1981 became the head of the painting department of his alma mater, the Jamaica School of Art, which is now part of the Edna Manley College. He continued in that position until his retirement in 2009 and has taught and mentored many noted younger artists, such as Omari Ra, Oneika Russell, Phillip Thomas and Ebony G. Patterson.


Cecil Cooper – Night Horse (1993, Collection: NGJ)

Cecil Cooper worked mainly in paint media, using gestural painting and drawing techniques, and his thematic preoccupation with the joys and anxieties of the human condition, and particularly the central roles of women in society, reflected a romantic temperament that was also evident in his musical work as a classical tenor. He exhibited regularly at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Harmony Hall, the Mutual Gallery and, most recently, Round Hill and the Olympia Art Gallery, and at overseas galleries such as the Savacou Gallery in New York City. His work is represented in many private, corporate and public collections, including the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Senator the Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson, the Chairman of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Board of Management, paid tribute to Cecil Cooper “as one of the artists who had charted the direction of Jamaican art in recent decades, through his outstanding artistic work and his distinguished service to institutions such as the National Gallery and the Edna Manley College.” Dr Veerle Poupeye, the National Gallery’s Executive Director, hailed Cecil Cooper as “an artist who was completely immersed in his art as a way of life, and a passionate art educator who challenged his students to be and do their best at all times.”

Cecil Cooper and Prime Minister Holness at the opening of his Milestone exhibition, Olympia Art Gallery, June 17, 2016 (Donnette Ingrid Zacca photograph)

Cecil Cooper and Prime Minister Holness at the opening of his Milestone exhibition, Olympia Art Gallery, June 17, 2016 (Donnette Ingrid Zacca photograph)

Cecil Cooper had celebrated his 70th birthday in June 2016, with a major exhibition of work from 1978 to 2016, titled Milestone: Cecil Cooper at 70, which was held at the Olympia Art Gallery. He had on September 6, 2016, received the Jamaican National Honour, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for his invaluable contribution to the arts. Earlier on, in 1993, he had also been awarded the Institute of Jamaica’s Bronze Musgrave Medal for his contribution to painting and art education. Cecil Cooper was a member of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s current Board of Management and had also previously served in this capacity.

The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica extend their sincere condolences to Cecil Cooper’s wife Rose, his children, other members of his family, and his many friends.

Cecil Cooper - untitled (2016)

Cecil Cooper – untitled (2016)

In Memoriam Kay Anderson


We are deeply saddened by the news that our colleague, the artist, writer and art educator Kay Anderson, passed away earlier this week.

Kay Anderson received a BA in History followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies. She also received an MA in Education from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The highlights in her career as an educator were her tenures as the acting Dean of the Cultural Training Centre (CTC) from 1987-1990 (now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), Vice Principal of academic affairs and student matters of the Mico University College from 2001-2008 and then as the Charter Principal of the Hydel University in 2009. She more recently taught part-time at the Edna Manley College. She was also the President of the Jamaica Council for Adult Education (JACAE) and was elected Vice President of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) in Kenya in 2007.

Kay Anderson was the author of several articles on Jamaican art with a focus on Jamaican intuitive artists and she also lectured on the presence of African retentions in Jamaican intuitive art in the United States of America and Cuba. Her research on this topic culminated in the 2011 publishing of Ancestral Whisperings: African Retentions in Jamaican Art, a book which, quoting the late Dr Nadine Scott, “covers the historical, spiritual, anthropological, cultural, and aesthetic contexts of our ancestral heritage.” As an artist, Kay Anderson exhibited work in several of the the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Annual National exhibitions and her work showed an innovative approach to using non-traditional materials.

Her involvement in the arts was not limited to teaching as she was instrumental in securing the meeting venue in the CTC complex for the Poetry Society of Jamaica, during her tenure at the CTC, from its inception in 1989. She was also instrumental in securing the land on which the Edna Manley College’s halls of residence stand, and contributed to the design of the student housing. Her commitment to the arts, students and culture were officially recognised when she was awarded the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican Government for outstanding Community Service and contribution in the field of Education in 2014.

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s team extends its condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and many former students of Kay Anderson.

Michael Parchment (1957-2013)

Michael Parchment - Death of a Don (2010)

Michael Parchment – Death of a Don (2010)

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of the painter, sculptor and poet Michael Parchment on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Michael Parchment was born on August 13, 1957 to a Revival family and he lived in Seaview Gardens in Kingston for most of his adult life. Called by visions, he started painting in 1978 and had his first exhibition in 1983. He was a regular participant in the Festival Fine Arts Exhibition (later the National Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition), where he won many accolades, including Gold medals in 2006 and 2007. He regularly exhibited at Harmony Hall, the Mutual Gallery and the National Gallery of Jamaica in Jamaica, where he won the Tribute to Bob Marley Competition in 2005 with his relief panting No Woman Nuh Cry (2005). He was featured in the National Gallery’s Intuitives III exhibition in 2006. Parchment also exhibited internationally in the USA, Venezuala, England and Switzerland, and Canada and was recently featured in Contemporary Jamaican Art, Circa 1962/Circa 2012, which was staged on the occasion of Jamaica 50 at the Art Gallery of Mississauga near Toronto. He also self-published several volumes of his poetry, which had titles such as I Raged in Chains and The Inna Thoughts and Feelings of the Poet.

Michael Parchment - No Woman Nuh Cry, 2005

Michael Parchment – No Woman Nuh Cry (2005), Collection: NGJ

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Wilfred “Jabba” Francis (1924-2013)

Wilfred Francis - Ethiopia Stretches Forth Her Hand (1968), Collection: Wayne Chen

Wilfred Francis – Ethiopia Stretches Forth Her Hands (1968), Collection: Wayne Chen

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets the passing of self-taught artist Wilfred Francis on August 21, 2013.

Wilfred Francis, who was popularly known as “Jabba”, was born in Spanish Town on August 24, 1924 – he died just three days short of his 89th birthday – and started painting sometime in 1966. His first exhibition on record was the 1967 Festival exhibition, where his work was favourably received, but Francis withdrew from the formal art world shortly after although he continued working, reportedly because of negative experiences with art patrons. Nearly forty years later, he started exhibiting again, encouraged by art dealer and collector Wayne Gallimore, and in 2004 had his first and only solo exhibition at the Mutual Gallery. His unique style and eccentric, visionary imagination were a revelation to many in the Jamaican art world and late in life he acquired a small but enthusiastic following of collectors.

Wilfred Francis at his Kingston home and studio in 2006 (photo: Veerle Poupeye)

Wilfred Francis at his Kingston home and studio in 2006 (photo: Veerle Poupeye)

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In Memoriam: Fitzroy “Fitz” Harrack (1945-2013)

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The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets to announce that the master sculptor Fitzroy (Fitz) Harrack has passed away on January 10, 2013.

Born in 1945 in St John’s, Grenada, Harrack received his early artistic training in Grenada and then Trinidad before attending the Jamaica School of Art (later Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts) on a scholarship. Upon his graduation in 1969, Harrack settled in Jamaica and began exhibiting in group and solo shows at well-known venues such as the Bolivar Gallery and the Institute of Jamaica. He was a regular exhibitor at the National Gallery of Jamaica where he participated as an invited artist in the Annual National exhibition and subsequently, the National Biennial. He was one of the artists selected for the prestigious Jamaican Art 1922-1982 exhibition, a major survey of modern Jamaican art which was toured in the USA, Canada and Haiti 1983 to 1985 by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. He most recently exhibited at the National Gallery in the 2008 National Biennial, to which he contributed a metal mask, and in the inaugural exhibition of the Guy McIntosh Donation, which included a major, untitled and undated abstract carving.

Fitz Harrack - The Disadvantaged (1973), Collection: NGJ

Fitz Harrack – The Disadvantaged (1973), Collection: NGJ

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In Memoriam: Gaston Lascelles Tabois (1924-2012)

Gaston Tabois – John Canoe in Guanaboa Vale (1962), Collection: NGJ

I put out my effort. Hopefully I’ll die very old having accomplished a lot of good for mankind.

Gaston Tabois, 1987

The National Gallery of Jamaica deeply regrets to announce that the Jamaican Intuitive artist Gaston Lascelles Tabois passed away earlier this week, on November 20, 2012.

Gaston Lascelles Tabois, circa 2010

Gaston Tabois was born in Trout Hall, Clarendon in 1924 but grew up in the small community of Rock River. He spent quite a bit of time on his parents’ small farm, but it was the solid work ethic that was instilled in him by instruction and example particularly that of his mother who insisted on the importance of him taking his educational opportunities seriously.

Gaston Tabois – Road Menders (1956), Collection: NGJ

His artistic talent was apparent from an early age as his elementary school teachers regularly tasked him with making charts for the classes. His dedication to self improvement saw him teaching himself Latin, Spanish, History and Mathematics but it was art that remained a constant in his life, even with his entry into the civil service.  Tabois eventually became the Acting Chief Draftsman in the Ministry of Construction but it was his artistic production that brought him national attention. As a self taught painter,he held his first solo show at the Hills Gallery in Kingston in 1955, where he was immediately hailed as one of the era’s most significant “primitive” painters. He continued exhibiting with the Hills Gallery for several years and his painting Road Menders (1956), which is now a prized part of the NGJ Collection, was originally shown there. Continue reading