JNBC Launches Ancestral Arrival Point Monument Design Competition

The Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee (JNBC) has launched the Ancestral Arrival Point Monument Design Competition, to attract artists from Jamaica and the Diaspora who can design a slave monument for the Kingston waterfront. This project is to mark Jamaica’s 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic trade in Enslaved Africans. The winner will receive a cash prize of $552,000.
Chairman of the Committee, Professor Verene Shepherd, told JIS News that the competition was launched two weeks ago, and guidelines have been posted on its website at jamaicabicentenary.org.jm and the websites of partnering agencies, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ).
“What we have done, is developed, in conjunction with the UDC and the KSAC, the guidelines for a monument design competition,” she informed. “We’re trying to distribute the guidelines widely, so that people will have access to the competition. It is open to artists in Jamaica.including those living abroad, who can design, execute and supervise the construction of the monument proposed,” she added.
Professor Shepherd noted that the winning design should reflect the official slogan for the year – ‘Our Freedom Journey. Honouring Our Ancestors’.
“So, the concept must take into consideration the fact that it is the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Africans that we are looking at. The final thing that must be taken into consideration is that the first monument will be actually constructed at Kingston Harbour; the artist will have to think about the fact that this is going to be near the sea, and to ensure that the design can stand up to the elements in terms of the material (used),” she said.
She pointed out that the artists are required to produce artwork along with a model or maquette to scale with the artwork, that would provide a three dimensional view of what is being proposed. The design must also be accompanied by a detailed budget for the creation of the monument, as well an outline of the materials to be used and a testament of their durability.
The deadline for submissions is October 31. All submissions should be dropped off at the UDC’s offices at 12 Ocean Boulevard in the Kingston Mall from Monday to Friday.
Professor Shepherd said that once the designs are in, these would be posted on the websites and the public would be invited to select the best 12 via telephone and e-mail voting. “We are going to then convene a panel of judges to select the winner from the shortlist that the public would have selected,” she explained.
She noted that the decision to engage the participation of Jamaicans was important to avoid any controversy and to garner support.
The winning design and artist will be selected by November 3, following which the project will be put to tender, in keeping with the procurement guidelines for government contracts.
The $10 million earmarked for the project was allocated by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Professor Shepherd projected that the monument could be built by March 2008, under strict monitoring by the JNBC.
In the meantime, land has been identified by the UDC at the bottom of King Street where the development plan for Downtown Kingston and archival maps have shown that a disembarkation port and market existed during the slave trade.
“What we are trying to do is to be as historically correct as we can in terms of identifying where the markets would have been. When enslaved people came across the Middle Passage and landed in Jamaica, there were various arrival or disembarkation ports. Kingston Harbour was a major one, and there was a marketplace almost at the end of King Street,” she explained, adding that slaves were then transferred from the Harbour to the plantations. “We have used archival documents to help us to ascertain the location, so I think we’re pretty much sure, as sure as we can be, about where the location is,” she said.
The final monument will be judged based on creativity, relevance to the theme, quality of presentation, visual impact, durability, and the plan for the erection of the monument, which outlines its maintenance needs over time.
Professor Shepherd expressed thanks to the agencies that are collaborating with the Committee in the undertaking. The competition is being sponsored by the Office of the Mayor of the KSAC and the Gleaner Company Ltd.
Competition documents can be collected on-line at the following websites: Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee; http://www.jamaicabicentenary.org.jm/; Jamaica National Heritage Trust, http://www.jnht.com; Jamaica Information Service, http://www.jis.gov.jm; Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, http://www.jcdc.org.jm/index.php; Urban Development Corporation, http://www.udcja.com; the Institute of Jamaica, www.instituteofjamaica.org.jm and the Jamaica Tourist Board, www.visitjamaica.com.

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