Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Pictures come to life, mural glitters

Published:Monday | June 29, 2020 | 12:22 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
Mark Bell creating his masterpiece.
Mark Bell creating his masterpiece.

Tasked with the responsibility of creating a mural depicting the rich cultural and historical traditions of Portland, Mark Bell and five of his colleague artists are getting high praises for the stories they have told in painting.

Bell, who admitted that when they were first approached by East Portland Member of Parliament Annmarie Vaz to do the mural of Port Antonio, he pondered with his colleagues as to the best way to produce pictures on a wall that would truly reflect the rich history of the town in Jamaica where tourism first started.

The team set about creating images reflecting stories about Portland which, according to them, would brighten the entire town of Port Antonio like a Christmas tree, and also to make a landmark throughout the parish.

The idea, according to Bell, was to ensure that the mural would come alive.

“I was given the assurance that any changes and decision by us would be accepted,” Bell, who acted as spokesperson for the other painters, said.

“I was handed an image to be used as a guideline as to what was to be painted on the wall, but after discussions with my colleagues, we took the decision to make some changes. We had to make it more Portland-friendly, and therefore we had to remove certain images and make changes that clearly show the history of Portland.

“Our job was to ensure that the painting tells various stories about the cultural and historical history of this parish. It is not only about beautification; and even if you drop from out of the sky, once you pass this wall, the images will tell you stories about this parish. It tells about the roast breadfruit, rafting on the Rio Grande, Nanny of the Maroons, the blue marlin, waterfall, green banana, the Blue Mountain ridge, a jerk pan, and also varied types of food.”


According to Bell, each mural clearly tells a factual tale about historical happenings in Portland, which has since attracted the eyes of many people. He pointed out that the mural is like a centre point of Port Antonio, as people driving by are stopping to take pictures, and that some have even gone up to the image of Nanny of the Maroons just to kiss her.

The mural lies close to the CC Bakery, home of Jamaica’s famous Holey Bulla, and is adjacent to the old railway station, which itself has a rich history. Additionally, the old marina building, which houses the annual Sir Henry Morgan Blue Marlin Tournament, is less than 100 metres from the mural.

And for her part, Vaz, who is obviously pleased with the work done by the six artists, said that it was always her intention to create a mural to depict the historical memories of Port Antonio, which is the cradle of tourism.

“This is one way of telling our stories to the world. I am hoping that such history included in a painting can be replicated in every parish across Jamaica,” Vaz said.