Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Jamaican artist Sean Paul Williams believes artists need more attention. According to Sean Paul, more investment should be concentrated on the development of art, because it could be a profitable asset to Jamaica.
"I don't think painting is getting enough attention in Jamaica. They need to do more for painting on a whole and the self-taught artists," Sean Paul said.
The self-taught painter believes Jamaica has a wealth of naturally gifted individuals who can perform at any standard set by international painters. However, he feels investment is crucial.
"We have a lot of artists who do good work, but they need more investments. Painters don't have the avenue to display their work and art can fit into any environment, so it is really not that hard to promote us. Art is like water, so it's adaptable," Sean Paul said.
Since 1892, the National Gallery has proved to be a prestigious arena where high-calibre local artists can have their works displayed.
However, Sean Paul believes the National Gallery itself needs to be promoted more.
"The National Gallery needs more awareness, too, so that people can have more access to view art. The majority of our near three million in population has never been to the National Gallery," the artist said.
Sean Paul also suggested that the local education system does not consider art as a profession in a serious way.
"The subject of art in schools should be taught and be seen as more respectable. We need art to be taken seriously as a career and business. Jobs can be formed from it and entrepreneurs can start their own businesses," he said.
The artist further claimed that Jamaican artists were limited by the tourism industry. He says the attention given to Bob Marley by tourism creates an imbalance where persons outside of anything to do with the legendary singer or his chosen medium struggle.
"Sometimes I go to the craft market and give them my works to see what they like. However, I notice that what the tourists love is Bob Marley. This is because the government pushes Bob Marley so much that other important figures get sidelined. So when you go to the stores it's only Bob Marley. So much of our culture can be represented through art, but the Bob Marley promotion is too much. Bolt is also breaking through since his performance in London," Sean Paul said.
The Gleaner contacted the National Gallery for comment and, according to executive secretary at the gallery, Greta Clarke, there are opportunities for local artists to expose their work through the institution.
"The gallery has an end-of-year show called the National Biennial, and this is a programme in which we involve invited artists. They are required to submit their works to the Biennial based on an invitation letter, and the curator will be at liberty to choose what can be submitted. There is also the juried section where a panel of judges will screen entries that are sent in by Jamaican artists and, if the work is selected, it is displayed in the gallery," Clarke said.
The National Gallery currently invites artists to submit entries for the juried section of the 2012 National Biennial exhibition, which will open on Sunday, December 9, in the categories of; painting, drawing (including pastel and water colour), original print, collages, photography, sculpture (including assemblage), installation, ceramic, fibre art and video
The exhibition is open to all artists resident in Jamaica and in the diaspora. Artists can submit up to two works.