JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, has emphasized that cultural preservation is an essential part of maintaining the history of the country.
“The National Gallery of Jamaica belongs to the Jamaican people and their collections are an essential part of the heritage of all Jamaica, including citizens of the Diaspora,” she said.
Miss Grange was speaking at the handing over of the 2008 Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Award, valued at US$27,330, to the National Gallery of Jamaica, at the gallery in downtown Kingston on July 16.
She noted that it was the duty and privilege of the gallery to preserve all historic collections, adding that “preserving the collections and seeking new ways to fund restoration is an essential role of the National Gallery.”
The Fund, created by the United States Congress in 2001, aims to assist developing countries in preserving museum collections, ancient and historic sites and traditional forms of expression.
Miss Grange said that the collaborative effort between the National Gallery of Jamaica and the United States Ambassadors Fund, demonstrates the strong cultural and artistic bonds that exist between the countries.
“So, as we move forward in a comprehensive conservation programme that takes in not only paintings, engravings and sculptures in wood, but also buildings and the infrastructure, we shall need to develop our bilateral relationships with countries that possess experience and resources in this field,” she argued.
The Minister pointed out that the specialized conservation knowledge taught in the American Universities and implemented in specialized laboratories, represents knowledge and services that are not currently available in Jamaica, noting that the capacity to access American knowledge and facilities is a true gift to Jamaicans.
“This project will enable us to develop and sustain relations established during the last United States Ambassadors Fund,” she said.
“We thank you so much for being in the vanguard of this endeavour,” she told the Ambassador. “You provide real assistance, not just words. Through international exchange, we shall need to find training for our talented young Jamaicans in this highly skilled discipline, for there is an abundance of work to be done,” she added.
United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson, in her remarks, noted that the award is to maintain works of considerable antiquity, in an effort to preserve and protect the rich cultural tradition of the country.
“The grant contributes to the preservation of Jamaica’s artistic and cultural heritage,” she said.
The award will enable the gallery to send five historic paintings to the Western Centre for the Conservation of Fine Arts in Denver, Colorado, for professional conservation services.
Chief Curator at the National Gallery, Dr. David Boxer, informed that the works that would be sent include, “Portrait of Thomas Hall and Family by Robert Edgepine, dated 1782; Portrait of Edna Manley by Albert Huie; Departure of the Queen from Jamaica by Michael Lester; City Life by Osmond Watson; and Washer Women by Barrington Watson.”
The goal of conserving the portraits is not only to preserve the works but also to educate Jamaicans about the importance of conservation, by sending groups of works abroad for restoration and eventually working toward the development of a local conservation facility.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is the largest national gallery in the English speaking Caribbean with a collection of approximately 1,700 works of art, most composed of wood, oil on canvas, or works on paper.

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