As we draw the curtain down to close the 75th Anniversary – it is both a pleasure and an honour to speak at this Handover Ceremony of 261 works of Art by 67 Jamaican artistes – our finest and most creative over the ages.
It also affords me the opportunity to pay fitting tribute to one of the most dedicated Patrons of the arts in our nation who, quietly but assiduously, amassed what must be among the most impressive and varied private collection of art in Jamaica, the late business magnate, Michael Campbell.
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He was determined that this event occur during the celebration of our 75th . While regrettably he is no longer here to sign the transfer himself, his spirit is present and his generosity will live with us forever.
The philanthropy of Michael Campbell represents both a continuance of a deeply grounded tradition and foundation of gift-giving to this University, as well as an illuminating moment of possibility for this regional institution.
This evening, works of craftmanship will be accepted and unveiled to inspire practitioners, students, experts and visitors of our rich cultural heritage. The works of 67 painters are received in tribute to the creators; as celebration of their excellence, and sincere assurance of their place in the tradition of “holding in praise, sharing with gratitude, building on our common heritage.”
The artists represented in this collection are myriad and like their native Jamaica, diverse in so many ways. They represent a glorious profusion of generative, creative, idiosyncratic visionaries.
The oldest work in this collection is the oil painting “Road Workers” created by Albert Huie in 1944. It serves as a fitting anchor and lode star of this collection, anchored here amid the heritage ruins of the Hope Estate here at Mona.
There is depicted in this collection of work after dazzling work, celebrating Jamaica, its people at work and play, its diverse beauties and above all its self-confident growth.
It mirrors the steady coming-together of Caribbean Islands and peoples, of increasing disciplines and professions, which mimic the decade-by-decade growth of this institution from 1948.
This collection is a welcome addition to other markers of Caribbean integration, depicting and echoing earlier art pieces found around today’s campus, whether as sculptural installations, story telling heritage markets or murals celebrating the decades of building new disciplines and teaching on the campus.
We are indebted to Michael Campbell, for his four decades of reflection on the long story of Jamaica’s coming of age, as told in a unique and easily accessible way.
We have yet another set of building blocks to go forward to ensure that the education offered on this campus is visionary, global and empathetic.
We thank Michael Campbell and his family for continuing to build his passionate mission.
As we seek to fully appreciate the magnitude of this philanthropic donation to the University complex here at Mona, we recognize its multifaceted, visionary nature, its potential to network new alliances, and its ability to encourage exploration in brave new academic areas and disciplines.
Four decades ago, when this collection was started, Jamaican art was in its heyday, benefiting from the surge of post-independence nationalism and inquiry. Artists were coming to their own, buoyed by their individual visions, whether self-taught or academically trained, and hailing from diverse environments, rural or urban. An islandwide infrastructure of more than thrity-four galleries supported and told the stories of these myriad artists.
It is time once again, with the possibilities that this philanthropic gesture holds, to ground or reground the creative industries into the foundation of learning and discipline held by this Regional University.
This moment also represents and demand interventions between those who were nourished by earlier outreach in education, in business, in a variety of professions. It represents a way to give back and to take advantage of new areas of creative industries that are more modern and meaningful in the lives of our university students.
STEAM – A for our our annals – with our history of slavery and colonialism, the Report of Professor Patterson pointed out
To achieve sustainable development, we must drive our entrepreneurial and creative skills which are critical and indispensable elements in our learning as a people.
The Creative Economy
The creative economy accounts for 6.1% of global GDP. In Jamaica, the sector generated us$2.2 billion during 2022 and 3% of direct and indirect employment. It earned more than the services in finance, business, insurance and construction combined.
As this University completes its 75th year, the challenge is how we remain a rising light and not become the setting sun. No one dares to contradict that our future is no longer in sugar or extractive minerals- it is our people and the release of their innovative potential through the creative industries.
This University campus has all the ingredients for this Renaissance, currently drawing on the wealth of its 7 faculties, 50 departments and over 200 programme areas. The Mona School of Business and Management, the multi-faceted Social Sciences Depaartment, Faculty of Humanities and Education, CARIMAC,
SALISES, all come together to provide a seamless foundation for the exploration in the business of Cultural and Creative Heritage which is at an all time high.
Jamaica has won outstanding global acclaim for its exquisite cultural innovation. We cannot squander this precious legacy.
The time has come for a Faculty of the Creative Arts with appropriate linkage to the Faculty of Humanities. I urge the Mona Campus, the first and at one time the only Campus, to lead the way and ensure that this donation will highlight the enormous potential of the creative economy
Michael Campbell was insistent that the Collection should be accessible to the students to promote and preserve our cultural heritage
– they will have to be placed in temporary storage but they cannot remain so indefinitely as that will defeat his purpose
– They need a permanent home for public exhibition
Hope his gift will inspire others to donate items
– But we will need a permanent exhibition hall
– This gift – this ceremony should mark a new chapter as we prioritize in our teaching and research, the professional skills to capitalize on our innate creative talents.
Our philanthropic donor, Michael Campbell, did nothing without reason. He chose this repository of learning deliberately. Let us ignite the torch that sets aflame the creative industries as a vehicle for development which fosters economic opportunities for all our citizens. Let the creative arts fulfil its social functions and moreover permit the creative and cultural industries to become the fulcrum of our great and unique Caribbean civilization.