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Dr Olive Lewin, OJ honoured

Published:Sunday | August 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Major Johanna Lewin (left), daughter of cultural icon, Dr Olive Lewin (second right), shows a picture of her face in an art work by Feea Daughter of Zion, as Rachael McDonald of Décor VIII art gallery (right) looks on during '50 Years of Female Art', at Décor VIII Art Gallery on 8 Hillcrest Avenue, St Andrew, on Sunday, July 29.
Former Prime Minister the Hon Edward Seaga (standing) greets Dr Olive Lewin after she was honoured during '50 Years of Female Art'. - photos by Anthony Minott/Freelance Photographer

Anthony Minott, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Exhibition features '50 Years of Female Art'

Décor VIII, Kingston's newest art gallery, paid tribute to Jamaican art with the opening of its exhibition titled '50 Years of Female Art' last Sunday in St Andrew.

The exhibition comes on the heels of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence and art lovers came out in their numbers to show their support.

The exhibition also paid homage to Dr the Honourable Olive Lewin, OJ, for her cultural contributions to Jamaica. She was the founder of the popular Jamaican Folk Singers. Dr Lewin's daughter, Major Johanna Lewin, spoke highly of her mother's work, and the meanings of some of the songs the famous Jamaican folk singers sang. Major Lewin was the first female helicopter pilot in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). Dr Lewin's granddaughter, Gillian Belnavis, also in attendance, beamed with pride at the rousing reception her grandmother received.

The exhibition explores Jamaican Art in the last 50 years and features work by visual artists such as Edna Manley, Gloria Escoffrey, Susan Alexander, Seya Parboosingh, Maria Layacona, Judy Macmillan, Susan Shirley, Hope Brooks, Laura Facey, Nakazzi, ceramicists Norma Harrack and Beverly Watson, sculptor Kay Sullivan, jewellers Kristina Broderick and Jivanni Redmark, and furniture makers Betty McGann and Casie Nicely. The exhibition itself is distinctive with pieces which herald Jamaica's 50th and stir a variety of feelings. Pat Ramsey, who spoke about Dr Lewin's contributions to Jamaica and explained the rationale behind honouring this Jamaican icon, formally opened the exhibition. Ramsey said the Government of Jamaica should upgrade Dr Lewin's Order of Jamaica (OJ) to order of Merit (OM), which is the third-highest honour that can be bestowed on a Jamaican citizen.

Corporate assistance

Meanwhile, Ramsey added that corporate Jamaica must step in to assist these women artists, in order for their craft to be sustainable and successful.

Former prime minister the Most Honourable Edward Seaga spoke to the fact that some 200 pieces of folk music were written, rehearsed and recorded at 8 Hillcrest Avenue, Dr Lewin's former home. The event's cultural exhibition created a vibe among patrons that put them in a real 'Jamaican' frame of mind. The Jamaican Folk Singers, drummers Phillip Supersaad and Calvin Mitchell, violinist Darran Andrews, Mbala and Papiumba Big Band, and a guest appearance by Ibo Cooper had patrons hypnotised with a variety of folk songs as Major Lewin, interjected with explanations of the songs' meanings and origins. '50 Years of Female Art' runs until Saturday, August 18.

Décor VIII is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is located at 8 Hillcrest Avenue, Kingston 6, the former home of Dr Olive Lewin.