Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange; and Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, unveiled the first mural on Temple Lane in downtown Kingston, under the multidimensional mural project, titled, ‘Paint Up Yu Creative Space’, on Monday (February 10).
Wife of the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness; Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Juan José González Mijares; Councillor Tosha Schwapp; and Acting Principal of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Kerry-Ann Henry, also shared in the ceremony.
The three-dimensional mural, depicting reggae Icon, Bob Marley, a couple and a Mexican lady blowing a trumpet, was done by renowned international muralist, Irvin Gomez, through the efforts of the Mexican Embassy. Mr. Gomez was assisted by local artists from a group called the East Evolution.
The three-phase project, which is a collaboration between the Culture Ministry and the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), aims to promote the international designation Kingston has received and highlight opportunities for Kingston to showcase, in creative ways, the essence of its culture.
It also aims to use art as a focal point and attract visitors to communities within the city, create satellite enterprises for community tourism projects and economic-generating activities, promote social and community enterprises locally, and beautify and rejuvenate the capital city.
In her address, Miss Grange noted that a growing body of research has positively identified murals as a catalyst for social, cultural and economic benefits and that they also has the ability to alter moods and promote mental health.
“They offer accessibility to art and creative expressions with little or no cost barriers often related to museums, galleries, or private collections. So, through visual expression, murals promote a sense of identity, a sense of belonging and attachment. They are welcoming and strengthen the brand appeal of our communities,” she said.
Additionally, Miss Grange argued that murals that are done in volatile communities demonstrate to residents that their communities are cared for and respected, making crimes of opportunity, such as vandalism, illegal dumping, drug abuse and robbery less likely to occur.
The Minister, who expressed excitement at the completion of Kingston’s first multidimensional mural, thanked the KSAC, the Mexican Embassy and the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts for partnering with her Ministry to make it a reality.
Meanwhile, Mayor Williams stressed the importance of diversifying the economy of the city, making Kingston a destination city, while noting that everything that is being done in the city, including the multidimensional mural project, is all a part of efforts to make Kingston the “light of the Caribbean and the pearl of the Antilles”.
“We have said that the light of the Caribbean is important to us, because being the light of the Caribbean means that we are producing a generation of young people whose intellect is of such that they can take on the urban challenges confronting cities and provide solutions to them. So, we want to create a generation of problem-solvers,” he said.
He also thanked the Culture Ministry and the Mexican Embassy for working with the KSAMC to create the mural, and invited other foreign embassies to join the partnership to transform the spaces in Kingston into places of interest and recreation.
Ambassador Gonzalez Mijares said he is happy for the cultural dialogue and exchange between Jamaica and Mexico.
“I hope that this mural will serve as a starting point for all the works of street art in Kingston, as well as a very original postcard that captures our bilateral cultural cooperation,” he said.
For her part, Mrs. Holness said she is elated that Jamaica is stepping out and joining the rest of the world in having beautiful and exciting spaces in the community.
Noting that the painting of murals in communities is a step in the right direction, she said it “brings a certain mental peace and comfort when we can enjoy the beauty of art”.
Utilising walls, fences, buildings and public spaces in and around the creative city, ‘Paint Up Yu Creative Space’ will draw on the creativity and artistic talents of the community to reflect cultural identity in mural form and frame. The mural at Temple Lane was undertaken in the first phase of the project
Under Phase Two, two separate walls that have been identified within the vicinity of the Coronation Market will be painted within the next six months, while the final phase will see the internationalisation of a perimeter wall identified at Flag Circle along the city’s waterfront in Kingston.