On Friday, having finished up with work a bit early, I rushed into the city to grab my last chance at seeing an exhibit that I’ve been looking forward to all summer. Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora, described as a landmark exhibit and the first of its kind held in the UK, promised to be a sweeping display of art and culture and I did not want to miss it.
I’ve walked past and admired the beautiful RWA (Royal West of England Academy of Art) building many times and was absolutely blown away by the interiors. This is the kind of building that you wish went on forever so that you’d have more to explore, but luckily the exhibit was packed with enough to keep me busy for a few hours.
I’ve grown a bit wary of “Jamaican” art exhibits after being burned by a few that turned out to be camp or not nearly fleshed out enough so I went into Jamaican Pulse cautious but optimistic. (I won’t pretend to be an art expert, but I will pretend to be a Jamaica expert. ;)) I’m so pleased to say that I was thrilled with what I saw, though a little amused at the number of pieces devoted to the subject of Vybz Kartel and his arrest and imprisonment.
The gallery encouraged photography – so please forgive me for waiting until near the end of the exhibit to make it there. I’m happy to at least be able to show you a bit of the work through photos. My sister and friends were also unable to make it, so I did a lap of the gallery just for me and then another with my camera in hand.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the exhibit was the art that examines body and sexual politics. Jamaica doesn’t have the best history with regards to its attitudes towards gay or gender queer people and it was refreshing to see that history picked apart and melded into art.
This was such a special exhibit to have right here in Bristol. You could tell that the gallery staff was bursting with pride, as they should. You could tell the incredible amount of cooperation between the Jamaican High Commission, RWA, the curators, private collectors, and the artists themselves required to amass such an incredible collection of art under one roof. I feel pretty lucky to have gotten to spend an afternoon exploring the work and will be pouring over the gallery book repeatedly over the next few weeks.
Hope that you had a lovely weekend!