Paint the town

Paint the town

Kingston Creative's mural project injects colour into the city

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 27, 2020

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Paintbrushes are flickering along Water Lane in downtown Kingston, a corridor which flies east to west from East Street to Orange Street, as local organisation Kingston Creative brings its vision of a art district to the heart of the capital city.

A number of artists are busy bring their concepts to life with murals on the facades and walls of buildings which were previously suffering from urban blight. And with the next few months a total of 59 murals are expect to bring colour, vibrancy and a sense of importance to the area.

For Kingston Creative's co-founder Andrea Dempster-Chung this mural project goes hand-in-hand with the overall vision for the city, which was designated a creative city for music by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 2015.

“Our vision is all about people and place. So while we want to foster the creativity of the people all of this needs a home... a hub and space for making this vision a reality. Downtown Kingston is perfect, but it comes with its challenges of not being visually appealing. So in creating an art district part of the appeal is the visual and murals say it best.”

“We looked at a previous project in which murals were used in a particular community as part of the move to bring peace to the area and given the stigma attached to downtown we wanted to work along similar lines, and in addition include elements such as social cohesion, pride and other spin-offs for both the residents of the adjoining communities as well as persons who will want to come in to enjoy what we have to offer,” Dempster-Chung told the Jamaica Observer.

Kingston Creative has benefited from sponsors and partners which include Sherwin Williams Paints, The Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation who have stepped forward to make the mural project a reality. This Water Lane project is now in phase two. We have now seen where property owners and the private sector are now stepping up to support the vision.

Dempster-Chung explained that the mural artists have been given the licence to pitch their ideas to a jury which then makes the final decision.

“We find that it works best to allow the artists to tell their story, as opposed to Kingston Creative saying paint this. There is an overarching theme of 'We are Jamaican' and that has lead to a range of topics and starting points for the murals. We have murals speaking to such a wide range of topics including music, violence, the oceans...when the artists are allowed to go ahead and exercise their creativity magic happens, and that is what is happening in Water Lane right now,” she shared.

Dempster Chung and the team at Kingston Creative aim to make the art district a showpiece for Jamaican creativity and a calling card for for the development of the creative economy. This mural project is also being used to represent what exactly can be expected for the country's creatives.


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