- The portrait was commissioned by the King’s House Foundation and painted by artist Valerie Bloomfield Ambrose
- Professor Hall used his office to highlight the importance of education and youth development
- Professor Hall created the Governor-General’s Diaspora Award for Excellence
An official portrait of former Governor-General, The Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, now hangs in the ballroom of King’s House alongside those of his predecessors.
Commissioned by the King’s House Foundation and painted by artist Valerie Bloomfield Ambrose, the portrait, which has the stamp of approval of the former Governor-General, was unveiled Friday morning, September 20, in a small ceremony inside the ballroom.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, speaking at the ceremony, expressed admiration for his predecessor’s work at King’s House.
He noted that in addition to his constitutional and ceremonial duties when he served between 2006 and 2009, Professor Hall used his office to highlight the importance of education and youth development and carried as his mantra, excellence, which he promoted as an important quality for Jamaicans to embrace in their daily lives.
“Such was his passion for excellence that he established the Governor-General’s Youth Award for Excellence to acknowledge socially and academically successful young people, who also found time to make valuable contributions to their communities. In addition to that, during his tenure, he created the Governor-General’s Diaspora Award for Excellence in recognition of the Diaspora’s contribution to Jamaica,” he said.
“Sir Kenneth we hope that your service and your contribution, your achievement in this nation will continue to inspire Jamaicans to believe in themselves, to believe in the God given talent, to believe that no matter where you are from, … that we can achieve and internalise what we want to become and actualise it eventually. We are very proud of you,” he said.
The Governor-General acknowledged members of the King’s House Foundation for their support and commitment to making the project a reality and the artist “who have so ably captured the likeness and the character of Sir Kenneth.”
In response, Professor Hall graciously accepted the honour and thanked the Foundation along with Sir Patrick and Lady Allen for their persistence in ensuring that the work was done.
He shared with the audience his initial reluctance at having his portrait done, describing the situation as paradoxical. The former Governor-General noted that while as a historian he values the importance of having material evidence left behind to ensure that history is retained in a useable form, as an individual his personal preference would be for the things that he has done to be left alone.
He said he was persuaded by the thought that it might be useful for future generations to have some sense of “who we were and what we did and so I want to thank you personally, but more importantly for the future generation, for having this portrait done.”
Among those watching the unveiling was the former Governor’s brother whom he acknowledged. “I am glad that my one surviving brother is here and I am accepting all of this only on behalf of the Hall family…he, I am sure will convey when he gets up, if he gets there before me, to my father and my parents, how proud he was to have been here this morning, because my father was a sort of historian, who really believed in public life and so an event like this would have been especially satisfying.”
In the meantime, Chairman of the King’s House Foundation, Hon. Dennis Lalor, pointed out that portraits of Governors-General are an important part of King’s House’s continuity. “They are tangible treasures of time and art describing our ongoing course of history. Today, we embrace the opportunity to continue the tradition for which we have a wonderful example of superb artistry, talent and sensitivity, he said.
“The painting we are about to unveil is undeniably lush and beautiful and in all honesty, we are enthusiastic and naturally very proud that this portrait will be here in the ballroom to reflect our sincere appreciation of the services rendered and affection for this place and all that it means to the Jamaican people,” he said.