5 Jamaican Artists You Should Know
Jamaican art is colorful and vibrant. If you’re not familiar with some of the incredibly talented artists in Jamaica, now is your chance to get familiar with some names.
Photo credit: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/
Edna Manley has been called “the mother of modern Jamaican art.” Although she is most celebrated for her sculptures, Manley also made significant contributions to the world of painting. She received training early on in the British neoclassical tradition. She believed strongly in art education, and she taught art classes at the Junior Center of the Institute of Jamaica before going on to found the Jamaica School of Art and Craft in 1950. Her husband, Norman Manley, was the founder of the Jamaican People’s National Party and the 1st Premier of Jamaica. Much of her work is political and depicts feminist and sexual themes.
Some of her most significant works include the sculpture Negro Aroused, The Diggers, The Beadseller and Eve. Wood was her medium of choice.
Albert Huie is one of Jamaica’s master painters. Born in Falmouth, Trelawny in 1920, he never took formal training in art. Instead, as a teen, he started painting and selling commissions of his work. Through this practice, he eventually received his first formal training at the Institute Group at the Institute of Jamaica and then went on to attend both the Ontario College of Art in Canada and the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London. Huie co-founded the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts along with Edna Manley.
Huie’s first painting was titled, The Dancers. His most famous paintings include Crop Time (1955), Noon (1943) and The Counting Lesson (1938). He is considered to be a post-Impressionist. He painted every-day scenes characterized by thin applications of muted colors, choosing many blues, greens, and pale yellows for his work.
Dawn Scott was a mixed-media artist who also worked as a designer for fashion, stage, and even interiors. She started out by creating batik paintings, and this was her main medium for the first twenty years of her career. Dawn Scott’s best-known work is A Cultural Object. This large installation piece is spiral-shaped and room-sized. It depicts a squatter settlement with street art and graffiti. At the center of the piece is a rag-clad figure of a male street person.
John Dunkley is less provocative than Dawn Scott but is no less important. He is considered o be one of Jamaica’s most important historical artists. He was a painter and sculptor. He often chose to use a dark palate for his paintings. His work, mostly landscapes, have a lot of detailed imagery as well as some psychologically suggestive themes that run through his works. Like Huie, he was self-taught. Much of what he depicted in his work was the social, economic, and political conditions in colonial Jamaica in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of his most well-known works include Jerboa, Baack to Nature, and Diamond Wedding. Dunkley was not fully appreciated during his lifetime; instead, he received his accolades posthumously.
Barrington Watson received his artistic education from London’s Royal College of Art, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. When he returned to Jamaica in 1961, he became one of the most influential artistic figures. In addition to establishing the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association and serving as Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art, he spent time as a visiting professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Some of his most influential works are The Garden Party (1975), Mother and Child (1958-1959) and Conversation (1981).