Fri | Sep 25, 2020

Art aficionados gather at Great Huts to celebrate the Legacy of Gene Pearson

Published:Thursday | July 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Paint and sip with Bryan McFarlane.
Mural painting with Joavan Puran.
From left: Finalists Cheryl Foster, Empress Ibie and winner Gabrielle Blackwood.

Great Huts Resort in Boston Bay, Portland, is positioning itself to become the Mecca of recreation and wholesome entertainment for both local and international visitors.

The last such activity in that thrust was the Jamaican Arts Odyssey - a three-day 'sojourn' into artistry themed for renowned Jamaican artistes, led and curated by the same.

The 'Great Huts Odysseans' have become part of the resort's loyal following and are expected to show up once again later this summer for the staging of the eighth annual Cinema Paradise, Portie Film Festival, opening in Kingston and concluding at the cliff-side getaway.

Two weekends ago, the eco-resort was the final destination of the Jamaican Arts Odyssey which began on Friday, June 22 at the Grosvenor Art Gallery in

St Andrew. There, art aficionados gathered to kick off a memorable three-day immersion in art and culture, starting with Nakazzi.




Her tribute to the 'Legacy of Gene Pearson' included an exhibition and personal presentation where she openly shared how the late Pearson inspired and taught her how to produce her now famous masks to an appreciative audience. The theme of masks, inspiration and mentorship continued as attendees set off for Great Huts, where the Odyssey continued for two more days.

Set against the jungle-like landscape of the eco-resort, the following day began with an early meditation. Portland-based artist, Joavan Puran, then led a mural painting workshop - whose participants included the art faculty and students of Titchfield High School. The next activity was mask-making with artists Nakazzi, Philip Ambokele Henry, Marcia Henry and Lisa Hendricks.

Internationally acclaimed artist Bryan McFarlane mentored many of the 20 participating artists including Puran. Carrying on the Odysseys theme, McFarlane led a presentation titled reclaiming 'Ancestral Roots', which explored the mystical and historical significance of African masks.

"It was a thoroughly absorbing experience; a bridge linking us to our past ancestral roots and a ladder lifting our spirits to future possibilities as a race, people and nation," said

Dr Henley Morgan, founder and executive chairman of the Agency for Inner-city Renewal (AIR).

The final day of the Odyssey began on the following Sunday morning with a Paint and Sip Workshop led by McFarlane. Patrons then moved on to portraiture and a calabash workshop, followed by more fascinating discussions with British photographic artist Lyndon Douglas, and American professor and African art collector James Clemmer.

Anticipated to kick off in August, the Odysseans can look forward to another immersive arts experience at the Annual Cinema Paradise, Portie Film Festival, opening at the historic Ambassador Theatre, Trench Town.

Last year, the film festival premiered the acclaimed documentary films RasTa: A Soul's Journey. The festival also screened Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess (produced by Roy T. Anderson), Rise Up (directed by Luciano Blotta) and Shashame: On The Trail to the Promise Land, along with the local short films called Shock Value (directed by Adrian Lopez), Sugar (directed by Michelle Serieux), and Origins (directed by Kurt Wright).