Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Capturing Jamaican sunshine in Europe

Published:Friday | October 16, 2015 | 10:51 AM
Jamaican craft and art pieces on sale in the UP! Tour tent.
Crowds enjoying the live performances at Reggae Jam.
Arts and craft at the UP! Tour booth.
Artist Matthew McCarthy in conversation with patron.
Art a baby ... a pregnant woman shows off this temp design.
Legendary Bunny Wailer performing at Rototom Sunsplash.
Drummer on the sets at Skandalös Festival.
A brother and sister in front of the Bremen Cathedral in the city of Bremen, Germany.
Jamaican craft and art pieces on sale in the UP! Tour tent.

Most potent things come in small packages, it is said, this intoxicating mix was on showcase in Europe, and combined with Jamaica's creative juices in a heady concoction ... and a youngster was at hand to capture it all.

"In July, I and six other creative people participated in the United Purpose Tour (Up! Tour), a brainchild of the Nanook community," said Jik-Reuben Pringle, a 24-year-old Kingston-based photographer and videographer. "The Up! Tour was a travelling showcase highlighting Jamaican culture and creativity through art, photography, music and herbal healing."

Armed with their individual strengths, the participants, which included Joan Webley, Alex Cowell, Matthew McCarthy, Jik-Reuben, Daniel Thompson, Italee Watson, Ashtan Champanie, and Peter Gordon which combined to create an eclectic mix, these Jamaicans youngsters got Europe to savour the sunshine from across the Atlantic.

"We went to Germany and Spain and attended three festivals: Reggae Jam, Skandalˆs, Indie Festival and Rototom in Spain," Pringle said. "We had four exhibitions - two in Hamburg and one in Berlin."

UP! Tour, in their travels across Germany and Spain where they held exhibitions, cultural workshops, live paintings, auctions emphasising the power of collective work and knowledge exchange beyond stereotypes and social or racial matters.

This experience, Pringle said, was a revelation in many ways, having been exposed to subsets of not-too-familiar experiences in an alien culture ... and often living in terra firma much.

Culture shock

"The tour was filled with a lot of learning experiences and culture shocks," he said. "For example, the whole refugee crisis, gentrification, and also what it was like living the backpacking or camping lifestyle.

"I also got to know how different photography, production and culturewise the festivals differ in Europe than how they are back home," Pringle said.

Creativity seemed to be the common factor. It is laid-back - cobble-stoned pathways, quiet conversation set on sidewalks, the romanticism of the architecture and the pace pedalled by spokes of the bicycles.

The UP! Tour, according the Pringle, was a multicultural exchange and promotion of Jamaican culture and credits Joan Webley, founder of Nanook, along with Alex Cowell, who gave them a chance to showcase the work of young talents of Jamaica.

"It was a great exposure," Pringle, who goes by his pseudonym Visual Ninja, said, adding that chronicling the UP! Tour was to capture the Jamaican experience set in cultural spaces across Europe.

"At each festival or showcasing, we sold art work from artist on the tour," he informed. "Additionally, I worked with Rototom Sunsplash as one of their official photographers for the seven-day festival. I also attended Reggae Jam."

For this young Ninja, photography is about exploring emotions and unearthing perspectives.

"In the five years since I have been doing photography, I have earned recognition for my unique perspectives," he says. His passion for black-and-white and portraiture, according to Pringle, has led to explore black empowerment, female empowerment, equality, cancer awareness, among other social themes.

The iconic Bob Marley once said, "One love, one heart, one destiny," the threads that intertwine and bind all humanity, treading different paths, but reaching the same destination ... and the journey of Up! Tour continues.