Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jamaican Jubilee in Paris

Jamaica obtained its independence from Great Britain in 1962 and has been celebrating its 50th anniversary as a free nation with events being held throughout 2012. In Paris, the latest of these events is an art exposition called Jamaica 50 - Paris: Three Artists Celebrate. The artists - Alecia McKenzie, Hanniffa Patterson, and Constance Wood - all currently live in Paris. They represent Jamaica with a vibrant palette of colors and expressive black & white photographs.

Alecia McKenzie, Hanniffa Patterson, and Constance Wood
© Discover Paris!

Alecia McKenzie is an award-winning fiction writer and journalist as well as an artist. She has participated in exhibitions in Alabama, New York, Brussels, London, and Singapore, and has held several exhibitions in Paris, including one to celebrate the life of Bob Marley. Hanniffa Patterson has been living in Paris for the past four years. She teaches English and has launched a social media management firm here. Involved in the creative arts since her youth, she draws, sings, and acts. She recently participated in the exhibition The Kingdom of Glottis by Damir Ocko at the Palais de Tokyo as the voice of “Spring.” Constance Wood has lived and worked as an artist in Paris for over 30 years. The foundation of her art work lies in the influences of both her Caribbean and European cultures. Many private collectors own her œuvre.

The exposition is being shown until 15 January 2013 under the patronage of Jamaica's ambassador to Belgium, France, and the European Union, Vilma McNish. Her Excellency, who is stationed in Brussels, attended the opening for the exposition. She addressed a happy crowd, expressing her pride in her nation and calling it "the biggest small country in the world."

Ambassador Vilma McNish addresses the crowd
© Discover Paris!

Crowd scenes
© Discover Paris!

McKenzie is a painter, Wood is a sculptor and painter, and Patterson is a photographer. Here are some of the works that they are displaying in the exhibition:

Woman & Child
Alecia McKenzie
Limited-edition print of original oil on canvas
Photo courtesy of the artist

Hellshire Beach
Hanniffa Patterson
© Discover Paris!

Star Apples
Constance Wood
Oil pastels on paper
© Discover Paris!

A section of McKenzie's Woman & Child graces the cover of her novel Sweetheart, which won the prestigious Commonwealth Book Prize for the Caribbean region in 2012. McKenzie has created the artwork for other book covers as well. Those interested in purchasing copies of Sweetheart can do so at the exposition.

The Jamaican community in Paris is a small but closely knit group, numbering approximately 300 at present.

Ambassador McNish (center) and members of the Jamaican Community
Photo courtesy of the artists

Many Jamaicans come to France to work as teaching assistants and end up staying here. They maintain close ties with their homeland, both fiscally and culturally. They have formed an association called Jamaicans in France whose mission is to promote Jamaican culture in France and at the same time maintain a link with Jamaica. For information about the group, write to jaminfrance[at]gmail[dot]com.

Jamaica 50 - Paris
Parenthèse Restaurant and Salon de Thé
47, rue de la Motte-Piquet
75015 Paris
Metro: La Motte-Piquet - Grenelle (Lines 6, 8, and 10) or Ecole Militaire (Line 8)
Entry is free.


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