The Dudus Chronicles
Hubert Neil, an artist from Belize, arrived in Jamaica on May 20 this year for a planned residency stint in downtown Kingston. It was to be his first visit to Jamaica and the 33-year-old was looking forward to gaining inspiration from the island's natural beauty and rich culture.
Of course, the timing of his visit landed Neil in the heat of the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke saga and all the tension, violence and drama it created not only in Kingston, but across the island. The artist found himself in an uncomfortable situation.
"I didn't know much about the whole Dudus affair until I got here. Of course, you then had the state of emergency and everything," said Neil.
The violence downtown put a hold on his residency programme, but it provided great inspiration. The Dudus saga and extensive media coverage it received prompted Neil to get to work, creating pieces depicting some of the most iconic images of that dark period in Jamaica's history.
Capturing the moment
"I chose to create pieces that would stimulate thought and discussion. The truth is, I just wanted to create. The situation in the country was driving me to do that. I realised after that the subject matter might be touchy for some people," said Neil.
The artist said he wasn't trying to make a specific point.
"As an outsider, I'm in no position to judge or to tell people who to support. I'm simply hoping to capture the moment," he said.
Neil believes, too, that his outsider status helped lend authenticity to his work.
"There's a certain detachment that I have. It allows me to be completely objective and focus solely on the subject without applying any bias."
The Dudus Chronicles, an exhibition of Neil's work, opened last night and will run for two weeks at the Grosvenor Galleries in St Andrew.