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Liguanea Art Festival is Back!


Liguanea Art Festival is Back!

Over the years I have followed, from a distance, the one-day art fair held on the grounds of Liguanea Shopping Plaza in Kingston. This year I had the good fortune of being in Jamaica, when the Liguanea Art Festival was held on June 25th after a five-year hiatus.  The last show was last held in 2017, but due to a number of factors, including the COVID pandemic the art festival was placed on hold till this year.

This iconic one-day art exhibition attracted over 125 applications from mainly Jamaican artist based in the island and abroad.  Of that number, 75 artists were selected to display their works.  Most visual art mediums were displayed including many paintings, ceramics, photographs, digital art, jewellery, leather, and wood craft. Notable exceptions were film, installations, and stone sculptures. The organizers also selected well known artists, as well as emerging artists to display some of their best works.

The Liguanea Art Festival is the largest art event in Jamaica, consequently, draws a huge crowd of collectors, art lovers and onlookers.  Entry is free and the outdoor setting makes it easily accessible to the public.  Not surprisingly, the crowd grew in the afternoon which as times made it difficult to see some booths.
Founded by June and Tony Wong, the Liguanea Art Festival has a threefold purpose:
-    To promote provide a platform for Caribbean artists to promote and showcase their works.
-    To provide a family friendly cultural experience, with creative activities for children, food and entertainment.
-    To maintain a focus on promoting Caribbean fine art.

This 14th staging of the Liguanea Art Festival was for me revealing.  Despite the heat, many artists seemed happy, even excited at the opportunity to reach a wide audience. While there was a good degree of similarity in many of the paintings on display (landscapes and figurative art), there were also a few notable exceptions, for instance Gina Gray whose display had exclusively abstract artworks. There was also a striking similarity in the colour palette, with a general preference for vibrant shades.  The generational differences were most evident in the photographic displays, with old masters like Franz Marzouca and Jeremy Francis traditional styles, as opposed to a younger generation like Kianne Patrice Hutchinson digital art and Ulrick Lawrence detailed studies.  It was also assuring to see the longevity of some artists, who commitment to their craft and certain business sense, have kept them on the art scene for over thirty years, such as Alphanso Blake, Paul Blackwood and Sinclair Ceramics.  

The organizers and artists who participated in the Liguanea Art Festival deserve a huge round of applause for keeping visual art alive in Jamaica and the Caribbean.  Hope to be there on the next occasion.

By Denise Allen of EJ Gallery
July 2023.