“Likkle but tallawah” is how Olivia McGilchrist is described by Mutual Gallery and Art Centre director/curator Gilou Bauer. At the recent 2012 Super Plus Under-40 competition, McGilchrist had just walked away with the Jury Prize and Artist of the Year.
McGilchrist’s “originality of thought” and thorough research, with her Sudden White installation, put her in front of painter/ceramist Leasho Johnson and visual artists, the impressive Marvin Bartley and Berette Macaulay.
McGilchrist, as overall winner earned her first solo exhibition and $100,000 in prize money, and said she had already begun work on additional pieces for her next show. Public Prize winner Bartley saw the win as an “opportunity”.
Johnson, was named most improved artist by the judges, as he fused ceramics and painting in his contradiction-filled ‘Church in Session’ installation, while Bartley’s love for the “old masters” exemplified in his reincarnated Greek mythology. Bartley’s ‘Untitled’ photography, arrested favour from the voting public who picked him for the Public Prize, but he lost critical points the judges determined that the works were “not original”.
Macaulay’s work overindulged in photo-transfer images in light boxes, spawning monotony for her ReKon: ‘Differenzierte Moglichkeit,’ as felt by the judges.
Judge Claudia Hucke in her address at the gallery’s Oxford Road location said the five-man panel was “very impressed” with the participating artists, whose work she said rivaled those on the international scene. Hucke, an art historian and lecturer at the EMC, noted the affinity for photography by the artists and used the opportunity to challenge prospective entrants. “We want to see more painters in the competition,” she said.
Dr David Boxer, chief curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica was the chief judge. Others were Tina Spiro, artist and lecturer at Saana; Omari Ra, head of the Visual Arts Department at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC); and Gilou Bauer.
At the end of the competition, Wayne Chen’s passion for artist was resonated in his address.
CEO of Super Plus, Chen who in 2001, conceptualised the Under-40 Artist of the Year competition spoke of the endless potential of art and of his vision for the growth of the industry in Jamaica.
Despite the market being soft at the moment, Chen said that the time had come for Jamaica to tap into the ‘huge business’ of art worldwide as a way of boosting, not only the art landscape, but also of recognising that “art has a role to play in our economic development”.
Pointing to the international attention being given to arts and culture, he told of art exhibitions being popular in countries like Europe, and which eventually had tremendous spin-offs for tourist arrivals, employment, and the artists themselves. He underlined that “our artists don’t need charity, they need support”.
He therefore proposed, among other actions, the establishing of urban centres of art and the enhancement of existing attractions, similar to Culture Yard in Trench Town, which would host art exhibitions.
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