Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Letter of the Day | Painting Redemption Song black tantamount to vandalism

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The Redemption Song statue blackened with paint at Emancipation Park, New Kingston.


I was travelling along Oxford Rd last week when I saw that the Emancipation Park monument titled 'Redemption Song', located at the corner of Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard, had been painted with what appeared to be black oil paint. I could not believe my eyes, and I could not imagine who could have authorised such a travesty.

I wondered: Was the artist consulted? The answer, I discovered, was no.

Obviously, the caretakers of the Emancipation Park monument were ignorant of the fact that this was an original work of art and, as such, should never be altered in any detail without first consulting the artist or, if the artist was unavailable, a professional art restorer.

Second, they didn't seem to care that Redemption Song was cast in bronze, one of the most beautiful and enduring materials available for casting sculpture. Some may be aware that there are many bronze sculptures all over the world, some of them hundreds of years old, that are just as or more beautiful today than the day they were made. This is because bronze has a patina (finish) of its own, and in the case of Redemption Song, a dark patina, put there by the artist, and this patina grows more beautiful with age if left untouched.

These qualities are some of the reasons why the Emancipation Park monument was commissioned by the Government of Jamaica to be cast in bronze as a symbol of the importance of this event to the history and people of Jamaica.

The people of Jamaica are now faced with the difficult task of restoring this piece. We cannot afford to ignore this matter, as failure to respond appropriately would place our other national monuments in danger of being treated with similar disregard. For example, the newly unveiled statue in honour of Usain Bolt, or other statues at the National Stadium, or the Bob Marley statue on Arthur Wint Drive, etc? Are we going to paint those black as well? I hope not.

In closing, I would like to suggest that public servants who are charged with the care and maintenance of these monuments be given information as to the best methods for achieving this, and by so doing, preserve them for generations to come.



Former VP Academic and Technical Studies

Edna Manley College of the Visual

and Performing Arts