GraceKennedy, partners gift Southside with mural
AS JAMAICA observes Child Month 2021 with many challenges to address, one of the most meaningful things we can do for our children is to secure their future and that of the planet. Also critical is getting the message out that the sustainability of our environment is something that we can all do something about. Responsible disposal of garbage, planting and caring for trees, preserving and expanding green spaces and keeping our surroundings clean are all important parts of this goal.
Such positive actions are all simple to do but easy to forget in the rush and stress of everyday life. Perhaps if we had a larger-than-life reminder it would help? Well, that’s exactly what two corporate neighbours in downtown Kingston thought. These are the GraceKennedy Foundation and the ICD Group’s MultiCare Youth Foundation (MYF), whose parent organisations have been public-spirited downtown residents for 99 and 66-plus years, respectively. Their current collaboration with each other, with Kingston Creative, with the artist and muralist Charl Baker and members of the Southside community, has resulted in a really beautiful, larger-than-life ‘clean earth’ reminder, in the form of a delightful and colourful mural.
Completed early this year, the work stretches for 110 feet along the 10-foot tall concrete wall which encloses the southern part of the ICD Group complex. It faces South Camp Road just above its intersection with Harbour Street. The mural was jointly commissioned by ICD Group Holdings Limited and the GraceKennedy Foundation. Kingston Creative, which is working to transform downtown Kingston into an art district, served as the executing agency for the project, titled ‘Our Environment, Our Communities and the Upliftment of the Youth’.
An open call was made inviting any artist to participate, and Charl Baker’s concept, with its vibrant design, was accepted as the entry most fitting for the theme. Her mural contrasts the dire results of a neglected and abused environment with the beauty and wholesomeness which can be achieved with good environmental practices, with a host of happy children enjoying the latter. Charl notes:
“The work is just a commentary on the fact that as a nation, we need to do better. The external (parts) of the mural shows the breakdown, decay and the pollution. Then the breakaway of the map of Jamaica shows the utopia of what Jamaica should be, and what it could be, and again the hope for a brighter place, a brighter hope for our children.”
Using images “from her head” rather than child models, the artist painted the mural over a period of two weeks and two days, with the help of Rae Town resident Fabian White and his twin sons. While the formal presentation of the mural to the Southside community has had to be postponed more than once because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions concerning public gatherings, many Southside residents, and others, continue to express interest in and appreciation for the work.
Caroline Mahfood, CEO of the GraceKennedy Foundation, points out that the mural is at a strategic location:
“It is not only at the border wall for the ICD Group, it is also the wall in the Barnes Gully. This is a critical gully bringing a lot of waste into Kingston Harbour. (This relates to) a project that the GraceKennedy Foundation is now focused on, to engage and encourage surrounding communities not to throw their waste into the gully.”