Jamaica and Cayman in art collaboration

| 26/03/2014

(CNS): The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) in partnership with the National Gallery of Jamaica is currently hosting an exhibition showing modern work by artists from Cayman’s near neighbour in a partnership that officials say will also see Caymanian work go to Jamaica. The exhibition opened last Friday to a great turnout, the NGCI Director Natalie Urquhart said. Alongside Cayman’s own dignitaries Jamaica’s opposition leader, Andrew Holiness, who was in Cayman for the anti-corruption conference, was also there to see the exhibit.

The collection of work is from the 1960s & 1970s a period of Jamaican history of dramatic social and cultural change in which notions of nationhood were actively explored, and challenged, in local culture

The artists of the mid-20th century nationalist school such as Edna Manley, Alvin Marriott, Albert Huie andDavid Pottinger, continued to build on their original interests with modernist depictions of iconic local subject matter but they also responded to the cultural and artistic changes that took place around them, as evidenced by the introduction of abstraction which pushed their work in new directions.

Thirty-five works are on loan from Jamaica and include work by artists such as Edna Manley, Alvin Marriott, Christopher Gonzalez, Albert Huie, Barrington Watson, Osmond Watson, Carl Abrahams, Kapo, David Pottinger, and other works that are of equal quality and significance but have not received the same level of exposure.

“We were delighted with the turnout at the opening reception of our new exhibition, 'Jamaica Art',” said Urquhart. “This exhibition marks important international collaboration between NGCI and our counterpart NGJ. It is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the long cross-cultural relationship between our two countries and to open up new dialogue between our cultural organizations and our artists.”

Alva Suckoo government’s back bencher and councillor in the ministry with responsibility for culture gave the opening speech. With his sister Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette and brother-in-law Randy Chollette well-known on the local art scene, Suckoo knows a little about creativity. He also noted that with his family’s mixed Caymanian and Jamaican parentage there was little doubt that the his sister’s own work was a fusion of the two cultural influences.

Speaking about this exhibition he said that, “With any period of intense change, a nation and its people are pushed, stretched and remoulded and with it so too is its culture, and its cultural expressions, both tangible and intangible. This period in Jamaica, the birth of its nationhood, inspired its own urgent and unique cultural and artistic production,” he said.

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