AHHHH! is what you’re sure to say, after winding your way uphill to the gallery bearing that name. It’s a trove of glowing artful treasure on the hilly border of Kempshot and Gutters, St James.
The Aaah! gallery is owned by two art extraordinaires artist Ian and Tameka.
Plotted almost 2,000 feet above sea level, with clouds sometimes sailing through its open windows, is a fairytale treasure trove. It is filled with a wide variety of art and is lodged on the rocky hillside border of Kempshot and Gutters, St James.
Ian ‘Ras Natango’ Williams, who taught art for a period, is prolific, and pushing him to international success is his wife, who doubles as his accountant. Tamika Williams is an educator in English language and English literature. Since their marriage in 1977, the teaching skills of Tamika have been honed, as she discovers and develops her own skills as an artisan.
self-taught to superb creations
The energies of Ras Natango have been refocused into his self-taught explorations resulting in superb creations in more than one visual form. His philosophy and messages, including ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery’, told differently.
Together, they have already assisted with starting up one school, The Heinz Simonitch school at the Half Moon Hotel, which now has over 100 students enrolled.
For a little more than 20 years, the couple has combined all their skills and expertise into transforming what was once a 60 per cent rocky hillside jungle into a place to just be.
‘Just Being as human beings’, is another outlook of Ras Natango, who was given the name for his love for the cartoon character, Natango, during his youth.
Within the three-storey building, the calculated variety of displayed works from pencil sketches to oils, placemats, postcards to shellcraft is mostly by the autodidactic Ras Natango. His paintings, which are acrylic, reflect his intense research and self-study of masters such as Michaelangelo, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt and Claude Monet. His themes are as varied as his successful representations of textures such as sand and water. However, his eye for detail is consistent with his ability to understand perspective in both art and mathematics.
It is easy to understand the fast growing international appreciation for the widely-sought-after artist who has been written on in magazines such as Hemp Times and York Daily, Pennsylyvania.
His works include designs and paintings on hemp-based clothes, wooden sculptures. Some of his themes reflect his own experiences especially the acrylic ‘Alone’, a man rowing against the tides of a rough sea.
The few representations of Tamika’s work as a craftsperson, include her egg shell depictions of a variety of roosters, hens and chickens on hardboard. Indulging in shell craft, knitting and sewing and embroidery, she also makes children’s costumes for plays held at her school. However, it is her reversible dolls that are striking. These dolls are like mirror reflections of the same doll, except when put upside down, then, the dolls change pose.
Ras Natango’s input to the outdoor decor of the facility is the carvings of Jamaica’s wild animals from the cedar tree roots, which are actually seats placed randomly across the garden. Additionally, there are antique items telling tales of Jamaica’s history strategically placed throughout the garden such as milk churns, three-legged wrought iron pots, old-time tilly lamps, and actual slave iron chains. In the garden is a sundial.
Visitors will be able to sit anywhere and indulge in the therapeutic offerings by the combined gardens and the view of the surrounding neighbourhoods, with the trees dotted like attentive children across the extended earth.
Together, the couple has written story books for children which are now awaiting publication. At least two of these books teach about Jamaican wild life and animals, and the way they survive. Ras Natango’s ‘Froggy’ is aimed at teaching children between four and six years how to create their own stories by following photographs, although it contains an actual storyline. They do realise the effect of combining art, language and literature especially in the development of children.
Their son, Ayale, a protégé in his own right, recently completed a degree in graphic design at The Art Institute in Florida. The couple remembers introducing him to art through cartoon books from a young age.
They are his greatest teachers. On display in the home gallery are his sea animals, where he has captured their characteristics exact from his sea shell craft. Also on display are some of his graphic designs and illustrations.
A family of talent, and exceptional skill, the idea of ‘tun yuh han mek fashion’ is passed through generations as each member finds something productive to do, and then seeks to educate and enhance the lives of others.
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12 thoughts on “Artful gems glow in Montego Bay at the Ahhh Gallery!”
As a personal friend of Ian’s and Tamika’s, I wish to thank you and bless you for shedding more light upon these two magnificent human beings. An excellent article. From your fingers, to God’s ears, my dear, and to the eyes of many readers.
I AM SOOOOOOOOOOO PROUD TO CALL U BOTH MY GOD PARENTS & BROTHER CONTINUE TO SUCCEED IN WHAT U DO.
Congratulations to all 3 of u on ur gallery. I am so happy for u all & wish u every sucess. I know u’ll continue to do well.
What an interesting and lovely read. It is amazing how many little treasures are hidden away in Jamaica. I hope to be able to visit this charming little place with my two year old daughter on my return visit. Jamaica is such a rich and beautiful country and it is wonderful when we can live there and show and share the beauty with its people and to people around the world. I look forward to seeing those children’s books oh shelves soon. Thank-you.
I don’t know how to say thanks for the articles you did! You have painted such a beautiful picture, I find myself asking myself if this is indeed us you are speaking about. Ian and I appreciate how you came here and captured the magic and essence of our little paradise. I am at a loss for words which is not a normal situation for me. Thanks for using your talent of writing and helping to spread the word about our home, gallery and garden. My family Thanks you! My phone keeps ringing with family and friends saying how proud they are, They need to write their responses here so you can read how proud you have made them of us. Ian Thanks you , Ayale thanks you, my community thanks you and of course I thank you .I am pleased to say the least. Here’s to the future!
Some treasures are meant to be discovered–and this is one of them. A beautiful article that mirrors the serene, paradisical and unique ambience of what the Williams have to offer. Thumbs up to you Tamika, Ian and Ayale. Hardwork has been your companion over the years, now you have gained many others embedded in the words “yes we can”, and you did. Keep “being”.
Thank you all for sharing. I am humbled and challenged all at once by your intense appreciation for my writing, and the subjects featured. I hope you continue to be a part by keeping connected and where your intuition prods… partner with us as artists to assist in honing the skills of Jamaica’s younger generation, and, promoting the country’s artists and culture. OAaSIS Foundation is one such opportunity. You can also make purchases of art products through this site, Aaaah Gallery or so many other places –JUST ASK!!
Thank You again. Please stay connected, and do continue sharing.
I had the very good fortune of visiting Ian’s and Tamika’s “hilltop gallery” back in 2004 (I think). I was immediately impressed not only with the brilliant vistas and beautiful works of art but also with the grace and charm of the hosts. The wonderful Ras Natango oil painting I bought at that time still proudly greets everyone entering my home. This is a truly talented and cordial family and I wish them continued success and prosperity. Maximum Respect!!
Family – You all have traveled far to reach such a well deserved accomplishment. Keep on holding on and tight! Unity and perseverance is the greatest strength. On my next visit, I have to make it my best endeavor to see such greatness.
Congratulations to you all.
I am looking forward to the new doors opening! I have the “froggy book” and will be putting it on the computer tomorrow. You will absolutely love it. Again my family thanks you for the articles you wrote and we are looking forward to our continued growth. To all my family and friends who took time to comment please forward the site to as many persons as possible because this is a perfect advertising tool. We guarantee you an experience at the Ahhh… Ras Natango Gallery you will treasure. Let us all continue to put the pieces together and support each other. The Indians do it, the chinese do it, we can do it too, Together we CAN!
Sincerely Tamika( AHHH… Its cool here in the mountains tonight).
Ian, Tamika, Ayale, just saying that I’am proud of you all..does not even begin to cover my feelings in seeing/reading of your accomplishments. As your big sister/aunt…I always knew, you had great talents, each unique as indivudals and yet complimented each other’s art. Jim and I can’t wait to visit and enjoy this wonderful ‘home gallery. We wish you all great success for the future. Thanks to the outstanding reporting, which has allowed the reader a peek of what they will discover on their visit. Luv u all.
Big Sis Joyce
I love it all! Keep up the good works. I think I am going to need one of those lovely painting for my new dwelling.
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