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Ten Jamaican Sculptors

Group show at Commonwealth Institute. 1975
Date: 4 September, 1975 until 28 September, 1975
Curator: Dr David Boxer/Vera Hyatt
Organiser: National Gallery of Jamaica/Commonwealth Institute

This exhibition was one of several displays of Jamaican artists’ work held at the Commonwealth Institute over the course of several decades. Taking place in September of 1975, the exhibition came with an important catalogue, published in Jamaica under the supervision of the National Gallery of Jamaica, the partner institution of the exhibition. It was curated by Dr David Boxer and Vera Hyatt. Hyatt’s preface to the exhibition referenced an earlier prospect of a major exhibition of Edna Manley’s that was mooted for the Commonwealth Institute. There has to date been no major solo exhibition of Manley’s work in the UK, so such an exhibition would have been a hugely significant undertaking. From Hyatt’s Preface:

“This exhibition is the result of a personal invitation to Mrs. Edna Manley, by the Directors of the Commonwealth Institute to present a “one-one” exhibition of her works. It was Mrs. Manley’s decision, however, to invite other Jamaivcan sculptors to exhibit with her, as she felt that having shown “Three Decades of Jamaican Painting” here, at the Commonwealth Institute, in 1971 our painters had had some exposure to the European viewers and that the time had come to afford our sculptors equal opportunity.

In assembling this show we have tried to make it a representative one, hence the wide variety of styles which is the very basis of Jamaican Art. It is also hoped that what this show will emulate is the essence of a people committed to a new and positive self-expression.

Since the late nineteen thirties, we have made great strides in all areas of the arts and though the National Gallery is in fact a newly founded institution, having opened in November, 1974, we are aware of the extreme importance of capturing within the collection the dynamism and soul of the new Jamaica through the skills of our artists. Our aim is to assemble the finest of our works and in so doing make it accessible to all peoples.

… We welcome as Guest Curator, Mr. David Boxer, whose sensitivity and enormous talents as an art-historian has added depth to the presentation of the exhibition.”

From David Boxer’s Introduction:

This exhibition, some seventy-five sculptures, the works of ten Jamaican sculptors, is a dual purpose exhibition. It is in the first instance, a retrospective of Jamaican sculpture of the past fifty years, while its second purpose is to show in some depth the work of the movements (sic) “outstanding ornament and its most volatile personality” - Edna Manley. This retrospective within a retrospective takes place in Mrs. Manley’s seventy-fifth year and one might think this is an attempt to summarise her career, but this very active woman is at this moment ready to embark on a new major project. In her customary way, a spate of remarkable drawings are filling up sketch-book after sketch-book as that intellectual ordering of specific emotional and mystical experiences in preparation for the new carving, gets under way.”

Edna Manley was referenced and evoked throughout Boxer’s Introduction, the concluding paragraph being no exception:

Edna Manley’s influence clearly wanes when we come to inspect the works of our so-called “primitives” - though it is time this misnomer was dropped - an artist like KAPO (a revivalist shepherd) is capable of the most sophisticated solutions to sculptural problems. One of the finest of his works is the small FLAME which seems to capture in its cascade of forms all the excitement, mystery and movement of the revivalist Church rituals. Like KAPO, DAVID MILLER, JNR., is an exceptional naturalist, and like his father under whom he learned to carve he has devoted his life to recording in an endless series of heads, the varied physiognomies of those around him, HYLTON NEMBHARD the youngest sculptor in the exhibition, has likewise revealed an exceptional talent for conveying something of the vitality, the boldness of Jamaican types.”

Within the catalogue all the artists were represented by one image, opposite one page including a list of works and a brief biography. The exception was Edna Manley, represented by some 28 works, with five images over six pages of the catalogue.

Related items

click to show details of Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

»  Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1975

People in this exhibition + view all 10

»  Christopher Gonzalez

Born, 1943 in Jamaica

»  Fitzroy Harrack

Born, 1945 in Grenada

»  Alvin Marriott

Born, 1902 - 1906 (probably 1904) in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Died, 1992

»  Hylton Nembhard

Born, 1950 in Jamaica

»  Winston Patrick

Born, 1946 in Jamaica

Exhibition venues

»  Commonwealth Institute

London, United Kingdom