Despite the state of emergency affecting a number of neighbourhoods in downtown Kingston, on Sunday it was abuzz with activities, courtesy of the Kingston Creative Artwalk and the National Gallery.
People from all walks of life poured into the creative spaces filling the National Gallery with art aficionados who came out, enjoy the gallery’s exhibit and performances. It was a sight to behold.
Senior curator O’Neil Lawrence told The Gleaner that in the past decade, he has seen the gallery at such a capacity on maybe only two other occasions. “We’ll have to look at the figures, but this is one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen,” he said. He isolated three elements that he thinks fed directly into the collection of art aficionados – “Interest in the exhibition, the performance by Quilt, as well as Kingston Creative gave us that spectacular crowd.”
The National Gallery was at capacity, and perhaps beyond. “We managed it. We had staff, even volunteers – there are strategies we’re discussing to make sure we have maximum crowd with minimal discomfort,” he added.
On Sunday, the gallery opened its newest exhibition – ‘Beyond Fashion’, featuring guest speaker SiiM (Michelle Simone Clarke) and a theatrical performance by Quilt Performing Arts.
This month, the seventh for the Kingston Creative Art Walk travelling to various destinations making various stops at art-centric venues, like the National Gallery, Trench Town Art Centre and Trench Town Culture Yard. “We had three busloads and a convoy of cars go into Trench Town, despite the rain and state of emergency,” Andrea Dempster Chung, co-founder of Kingston Creative, revealed to The Gleaner of Sunday’s record crowd.
“In terms of why it went so well, it boils down to the strength of the culture, the work of our volunteers, and some key partnerships. People were definitely concerned about the State of Emergency – I got several calls and emails, and their concerns were voiced on social media too, but they showed up in spite of that.”
With the assistance of Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Welsh, the buses and convoy were allowed through checkpoints into Trench Town, where they had planned activities in the community centres. “He made every effort to ensure that our experience passing through the checkpoints was smooth, and it was. He even emailed me to check how it went – a level of customer service that I had not anticipated,” she added.
According to Dempster Chung, Kingston Creative has counted over 19 volunteers signing on in the last two weeks. “Over 70 persons contributed and supported in various ways.”
In addition to the JCF, Kingston Creative also partnered with Stanford Watson, who coordinated an exhibition by children from Multicare Foundation’s Art On The Street programme held on Saturdays in the Parade Gardens community, in partnership with the National Gallery. The children who created the art (ages 5 -18) were present to showcase their work.
There was also a children’s art activity, in partnership with the Alacran Foundation, Jamaica Cultural Tours, and the Trenchtown Art Centre and Trench Town Culture Yard. After the walk, they gathered at the Art Centre for pottery-painting with the centre’s founder.