Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The legend surrounding Annie Palmer, known locally as “The White Witch”, is an important part of the island’s history which incorporates all the elements of a captivating novel: a beautiful heroine, unrequited love, black magic and revenge.
Built in 1770 by plantation owner John Palmer and his wife Rosa, this landmark is set in a gracious old plantation tucked amidst the green hills of Rose Hall. One of the most important Great Houses on the island, most tourists pay a visit to this attraction to travel back in time and learn about the island’s rich history. The fascinating tour of the mansion ends at Annie’s grave, but don’t let the ghost scare you from visiting with the outstanding, resident artists.
You will quickly notice the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, which make Dean’s and Sheldon’s pieces of art some of the most outstanding on the island. Real Jamaican woodcarvings produced by the duo include countless motifs and designs, including fishes, eagles, turtles, people, fruits, cats and dogs.
Dean, who is the son of a carver, was born and raised near Cinnamon Hill in Rose Hall. Like most children who don’t listen to their parents, he was not interested in his father’s trade at first. It took the influence of friends to get Dean interested in learning the trade and become a real professional carver. “My first piece was a small owl and after a while, I came to love carving,” recalls Dean who became the first artist to showcase his work at the Rose Hall Great House about 20 years ago. He remembers, “My stepfather worked for Mrs. Rollins at Rose Hall Developments and that is how I got to come to the Great House.”
Today, Dean and the 30 year old Sheldon make a fantastic father-son team. Says Dean, “Sheldon has been under my guidance since he was three years old and has learned to love the trade like I do.” The carver is proud of the fact that all his 5 children are artistic. Sheldon, he explains, is excellent at drawing sketches when custom pieces are ordered.
“When I was eleven, I started to play around with the chisel,” says Sheldon, who has since developed into a very talented carver. His father whispers with a smile that his son’s skills may even have surpassed his own. One of Sheldon’s artsy creations, a palm with a flower and a Doctor Bird, was even presented to Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain during her 2009 Royal visit to the island.
With cedar wood as his favorite medium, Dean enjoys creating fish the most, coincidentally, their best selling item. “People have called me from New York, Tennessee and other far-away places to order pieces,” says Dean proudly.
Ten years ago, when the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort & Spa opened, Mrs. Rollins asked Dean to branch out to the new hotel, where he currently spends six days a week. Sheldon remains based at the Great House, where he showcases a great array of carving, self-made bead necklaces, bracelets and cute little flip-flop key rings.
Look for Dean close to the beach at the Ritz-Carlton in Rose Hall from Sunday to Friday or call him on tel. 489-6672 to place orders. Sheldon is at the Rose Hall Great House every day except Tuesdays or on tel. 436-5535. The Great House is open for guided tours daily from 9:15 am with the last tour at 5:15 pm. Tel: 953-2323.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
It is with great sadness to have learned that 'The Master of Light and Shadow' has passed on on August 2, 2012.
Jamaican visual art comes in many forms; the brightly colored façade of a house, a creatively designed shop or directional sign, a lone graffiti on a city wall or country fence or colorful pieces or intuitive art in one of the island’s many art galleries. Many locals are in the possession of incredible talent, whether self taught or trained at renowned institutions such as the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. Some artists, though seemingly at a disadvantage, shine in their own special way. Meet exceptional painter and sculptor Roy Bernard.
BY HEIDI ZECH
Upon entering the Saba Art Gallery, I find a smartly dressed man with short hair, glasses and a million dollar smile, who is stretching out his hand in a friendly hello. A different kind of interview object, 44 year old Jamaican painter and sculptor Roy Bernard has had to learn to hear and be heard in an alternative way and we quickly establish communication through good old pen and paper and signs.
Born deaf and mute, Roy and his sister were raised in the small district of Orange near Montego Bay by their mother Yvonne. It appears that the happy, laid back country life and the setting of a small, loving family created the perfect environment for Roy to learn to live independently.
I point to a question on my note pad to find out how Roy discovered his love for art. Writes Roy, “I was a kid that always loved art.” Wanting to give her disadvantaged son a good start, mother Yvonne kept her faith strong and worked as a housekeeper in the Ironshore area to be able to send Roy to the St. Christopher’s School for the Deaf in Brown’s Town, St. Ann. From the ages of 6 to 12, Roy learned sign language and other essential subjects and discovered his talent and love for art. Luckily allowed to develop his love for art, Roy shows me his Grade 5 yearbook, pointing proudly to the line ‘Roy is very neat in his appearance and his work. He has shown exceptional ability in art’. The page also shows some of Roy’s novice sketches, revealing that he started his career as a visual artist with pencil, crayon and watercolor, painting faces, cars and buses.
At the age of 24, Roy got what he considers to be a big break. Somehow, his mother managed to send him to the Edna Manley School of the Visual Arts, where he developed his artistic skills further. A karate green belt holder, he folds his hands and looks up into the sky; his way of telling me that he is religious. In fact, after 4 years of Bible study, he is a devoted Jehovah’s Witness.
While Roy works with acrylic, oil paint is his preferred medium, although he expressed his dislike of the paint’s speak for fumes by wrinkling his nose. His style is clear and simple and sometimes bears the characteristics of cartoons, which made him the perfect artist to illustrate the walls of the ‘Kids Club’ at the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort in Rose Hall. Painting from what he describes as a photographic memory, his works bear titles such as ‘A Day in the Field’, ‘At Sea’, ‘Coconut Vendor’ and ‘The Future’, which is a portrait of a woman holding a young baby. The artist has also painted an outstanding piece of the fastest man on Earth, Usain Bolt.
Roy expresses the fact that one of his pieces was given to the Bishop of York by the St. James Parish Council as a great honor, but his distinctive works of art themselves through exhibitions at the Retreat Guest House in Falmouth, the Tryall Club and selected art galleries.
When I ask if he is married, Roy vigorously shakes his head and points to a bare ring finger, smiling. Who would have known that this literally quiet man is a fantastic cook, not shy of doing housework and even built parts of his mother’s house all by himself? However, Roy is not satisfied with what he has achieved so far in life. He has thoughts of moving back to Kingston, so that he can advance his art to an even higher level and create a solid living. I look at him in awe, reflecting on just how much this gifted artist has been able to achieve, despite his challenges of not being able to hear and speak.
Roy’s artwork can be found at Saba Art Gallery at 3-5 Fort Street in Montego Bay, tel: 940-1011. You can reach Roy directly by sending a text message to 885-2271. firstname.lastname@example.org.