Robyn Miller, Arts & Education Writer
Two decades after it first pitched its cluster of tents showcasing authentic Jamaican art, the Association of Jamaican Potters' (AJP) annual art and craft show, popularly known as Potter's Fair, has stamped its class among the premier events on the art calendar, with collectors from all over the country flocking its venues during the Yuletide season.
Known to attract some of the finest home-grown talents, some of whom now ply their trade overseas but jetted home to add to the stellar line-up of artisans, the 23rd staging held recently at the Forestry Department on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew, though not seeing the bumper crowds of yesteryear, lived up to expectations.
Priding itself on retaining its 'Jamaicanness', the event's organisers attributed the show's success to its commitment to Brand Jamaica.
"Our fair is now among the premier fairs, and we base our fair on Brand Jamaica and making sure that the things that are produced locally [are sold]. That is our most important thing," said Margaret McGhie, secretary of AJP.
She explained that the association "tries to make sure that at least 80 per cent of the thought process is local" and, therefore, "the fair is by invitation", eliminating a popular feature of many art fairs which had a flood of imported items and little input from Jamaican artists.
A good blend of the young and the more mature talents brought together a delightful display of craftsmanship in jewellery, painting, sculpting, ceramics and photography at the venue, which the operators appear to have settled on as home in the last 10 years.
With roots established at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts for a number of years, the show had trekked to the cool hills of Villa Ronai in Stony Hill before making its way to its present location.
Among the impressive list of artists displaying their craft were potter Phillip Supersad; potter and sculptural ceramist David Pinto; sculpture and photographer-cum-author Kay Sullivan; sculpture and inaugural Super Plus Under-40 Artist of the Year, Nakazzi Hutchinson; multi-award winning photographer and graphic artist Howard Moo Young; potter Michael Lyn; painter Alphonso Blake; potter Allison Sweeney and a host of others.
Day one of the two-day show saw an unusually slow but steady trickle of persons to the grounds, however, by day two, things had, for the most part, begun to look up.
Fifteen-year Potter's Fair veteran Phillip Supersad and a handful of others who a day before had expressed optimism for increased sales, said "it wasn't as lucrative as thought", as in previous years, business was much better.
Young, self-taught artist Solomon Sinclair, in only his third year at the show, was however, singing a different tune. He, like sculptor Nakazzi said, "It was good, much better than last year, perhaps because of the election, people weren't relaxed. Not many people came."
This year, though, Sinclair and Nakazzi said several of their paintings and sculpture had been bought.
McGhie lay the blame for the mixed bag on the economy, noting the recent downturn.
Still, she said the show was a success, noting that "a lot of people had said that (at) fairs that had taken place before ... some people said they sold nothing ... or barely sold anything or didn't make back the money that they had spent ... ."