Kingston is our creative city. It always has been really, but now the enthusiastic team at Kingston Creative and increasingly, private sector supporters, are taking it to another level of possibilities (yes, more than one possibility – there are myriads). There is a bit of a flowering going on in downtown Kingston. As a cynical reader said in response to an article I wrote for Global Voices on the topic recently – yes, a few street musicians and murals doth not a revival make. But this is becoming something far more sophisticated. It is about creating community and developing entrepreneurship.
It’s going to be an exciting week. Let’s hope for fair weather! See details below…
The Jamaica Observer’s Design Week sees the launch of a series of events in Downtown Kingston that are building an influential and interactive design scene.
Check out the Architecture & Design Meetup, a diverse networking platform for the creative community on Friday September 27 from 5-8 pm, and the Kingston Creative Artwalk on Sunday September 29 from 9-5 pm featuring exhibitions, competitions and installations from the most important actors in the educational, commercial and cultural spheres in architecture and design.
These partners include the Jamaica Observer, the University of Technology Caribbean School of Architecture (CSA), the Jamaica Institute of Architects (JIA), the Institute of Jamaica, the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) and leading design firms like Zuar Architects, led by Ard Jarrett and The Design Diva, headed by Karen Booker.
Design is a hot topic for Downtown with the Kingston waterfront being developed into a sleek business district, and with a desire for the historical buildings in the burgeoning Downtown Kingston Art District to seek to protect their “heritage overlay”, keeping the Georgian exterior intact even as the interiors are remodeled, repurposed and completely transformed.
In addition, Downtown designers, potters, furniture-makers and even local drum-makers are seeking to establish themselves and grow a cluster of artisanal businesses, making Downtown into a design hub.
On Friday, September 27th, the Meetup opens at 5:00 pm with an artist talk by Khadijah Ibrahiim on “Developing your Creative Practice”.
Ibrahiim is a noted UK Jamaican artist and poet who has performed and produced art programs in the USA, Caribbean, Africa and Asia and is hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by the BBC. In 2018 she was shortlisted for Yorkshire Woman of the Year for the Arts and in 2019 she was shortlisted for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship and she is also the recipient of the Arts Council of England ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ Award.
Meetup panelists include David Cuthbert from the Jamaica Institute of Architects (JIA), Fabian Rainford from the Rose Town Potters collective, Laura-Lee Jones, Head of Department of Applied Arts and Sara Shabaka, Graphic Designer/Lecturer from the EMCVPA.
Architect André Baugh, representing the UTech CSA will be presenting the investigative work of Design Studio 8, on “The Future of Downtown Kingston, Jamaica: The Vertical City”. This will be a terrific opportunity to see how architects imagine Kingston in 2092. What buildings and architectural elements are persistent and valued as part of Kingston’s communal consciousness and necessary to maintain our heritage? What can the future look like?
On Sunday September 29th, the Historic Walking Tour starts at 9:00 am from the Victoria Pier, followed by Community Yoga on the Waterfront led by Afya Studios at 10:00 am at the UDC Car Park.
The Market Street and Artwalk tour begins at 11 am inside F&B Downtown at the corner of Church and Harbour Streets with performances and an interactive exhibition from the Trench Town Art & Ceramics Centre.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is the next stop on the Artwalk, where patrons can see a performance from performing arts group QUILT.
During the day, the children’s village will be open, a sound system will be playing in Market Street, and there will be food, musical performances, comedy by Owen ”Blakka” Ellis, open mic sessions.
We will also have competitions, exhibitions and surprise architectural installations from the UTech CSA, the Edna Manley students, Drummaker Phillip Supersad, Blakka Ellis, The Rose Town Potters, Bellas, Lyndon Baller Johnson and other artisans and designers in Market Street.
President of the Jamaican Institute of Architects, Stacey-Ann Dennison congratulated Kingston Creative, saying,
“We support the goals of Kingston Creative, particularly the transformation of the urban environment of downtown Kingston through art. As the city develops and densifies, the improvement in the quality of our shared spaces becomes paramount and we see this as an exciting way to showcase Kingston (and Jamaica’s) strong creative talents.
We will be hosting a team design competition in Downtown on Sunday September 29th, and this will be a perfect introduction to the JIA Architects’ Week, which will be focusing on the theme, “Architecture for All”.
President of the Caribbean School of Architecture (CSA) at UTech Jacqui Lawton commented:
“We welcome the opportunity to take our work downtown and we will exhibit selected pieces from the CSA’s 30th Anniversary Annual Exhibition – physical models of three Caribbean capitals; Bridgetown, Barbados and Basseterre, St Kitts. The Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Jamaica conducts travelling study tours as part of the curriculum where students and their lecturers increase their knowledge and research on the unique qualities of architecture across the region.
These models, resulting from the travel, offer opportunities for the Design Studios to create conjectural and educational architecture responses to specific sites and problems of urbanity in the tropics. The models will be of interest to adults and children alike as they are well crafted and propel the imagination through visualization.“