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Stabroek News

Super Plus stocks up on the arts
published: Thursday | October 4, 2007

Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
Dub Poet and now writer Yasus Afari (right), presents a copy of his book 'Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World' to Mrs. Patricia Cuff, acting director general - Jamaica Library Service, and Wayne Chen, chief executive officer of Super Plus Food Stores, at the Jamaica Library Service head office recently.

Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer

Still life photographs and CDs with glamorous pictures on the cover are not quite what one would expect from an organisation known for food and household products.

However, when the second exhibition of the 'Click' photography programme opens tomorrow it will be very much part of Super Plus' stock in the artistic trade.

And while the exhibition by 20 children from inner-city communities will be at the Olympia Gallery on Hope Road, St. Andrew, early next week, singer Nadine Sutherland's album Call My Name will be in the supermarket chain's outlets.

Added to that, on Tuesday, June 12, poet Yasus Afari handed over several copies of his book Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World, which were purchased by Super Plus, to the Jamaica Library Service at its Tom Redcam Drive, St. Andrew, headquarters.

This involvement in the arts is not new, as Super Plus' Wayne Chen points out that "we have always been involved, directly and indirectly." Super Plus was one of the original sponsors of the annual 'Rebel Salute' concert as well as the 'Calabash International Literary Festival', with sponsorship of the 'Under 40 Artist of the Year Competition' ongoing for seven years.

The 'Click' programme came indirectly through artist Albert Chung, who teaches at the University of Colorado. Chung had the idea of a gun amnesty and then melting down the firearms to create a monument. However, potential pitfalls were pointed out and Chen suggested that Chung utilise his skills in a programme where at-risk children would be taught photography and, through them, "highlight communities we only see on TV if there is a murder or a police operation. Let us remind Jamaica and the world that people, however poor, still have vibrant lives and they have vibrant communities. They have aspirations, just like anyone else."

Working with the Violence Prevention Alliance, in 2006, 20 children from Kingston communities including, Trench Town and Dunkirk, were selected through an audition process that involved a simple creativity test. Those selected spent a month learning about computers and were also taken on field trips to Castleton and the north coast. Equipped with digital cameras they went back to their communities and, in the end, an exhibition was held where the proceeds from the sales of the prints went back to them.

And this year there was a second 'Click', the results of which will be on show at the Olympia Art Gallery tomorrow.

Great idea

The initiative came from the artiste for Call My Name. Nadine Sutherland said, "An idea just came to me. People have been asking me about the album and I have not been able to say anything to them in terms of record stores. I saw some albums there and it came to me one day to ask."

The link was made and "he (Chen) was very accommodating". she said. Not only that, but "he is into the music and the culture."

When she explained her idea, "He stood up and said I personally will make sure your poster is up in all the Super Plus stores."

"He could tell me about Starvation on the Land (Sutherland's first single), This is how on top of it he is. I really believe that he is interested in helping the arts," she said.

Chen told The Gleaner, "I have followed Nadine's career since she won the Tastee competition."

When the copies of Overstanding Rastafari were handed over to the Jamaica Library Service, Yasus Afari said that it was artwork in the May Pen outlet of Super Plus that led him to artist Omar Passley, whose sketches are in the book, and on to Wayne Chen to request sponsorship. However, before he had a chance to make the proposal, Chen did so.

Chen told The Gleaner that Yasus Afari "is a very positive role model for the youth.

"Some will be highlighted, some will never be highlighted, but there are many artistic persons we have worked with over the years," he said.

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