Michael Campbell’s art collection added to UWI Mona campus
KINGSTON, Jamaica— In a move hailed as a visionary step forward for Jamaica’s creative economy, the University of the West Indies (UWI) recently celebrated the significant addition of the Michael Campbell art collection to its Mona campus, valued at $US2.3 million.
This philanthropic gesture, occurring during the University’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, was commended by former Prime Minister PJ Patterson as a landmark event, showcasing the island’s burgeoning potential in the creative and cultural sectors.
Patterson, in his address at the handover ceremony, lauded Campbell’s foresight and dedication as a patron of the arts.
“Michael Campbell’s collection is not just an assemblage of art; it is a narrative of our nation’s soul, chronicling our trials, triumphs, and aspirations,” he remarked.
The former prime minister emphasised the collection’s potential to ignite a renaissance in the creative economy, underscoring the importance of the arts in the nation’s future development.
In recent years, Jamaica’s economy has witnessed a transformative shift, with the cultural and creative industries emerging as pivotal drivers of economic growth and innovation. Patterson pointed out that the creative economy accounts for 6.1 per cent of global GDP.
In Jamaica, the sector generated US$2.2 billion during 2022 and three per cent of direct and indirect employment. It earned more than the services in finance, business, insurance and construction combined.
This sector, which encompasses a broad spectrum of artistic and cultural activities, has begun to outshine traditional economic mainstays such as other extractive industries. Patterson underscored this paradigm shift in his remarks, highlighting the collection’s role in catalysing this transition.
“The donation of the Michael Campbell art collection to our prestigious University of the West Indies is not just a cultural milestone; it’s an economic beacon,” he noted.
“It signifies the growing recognition of the creative industries as the bedrock of Jamaica’s future economy.”
The creative sector in Jamaica has shown remarkable resilience and growth, contributing significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment opportunities to a substantial portion of the population.
The collection, comprising 261 works by 67 Jamaican artists, represents a profound tapestry of the nation’s artistic journey. It spans several decades, capturing the essence of Jamaica’s cultural and social evolution.
The oldest piece, Albert Huie’s “Road Workers” from 1944, anchors the collection, symbolising the steadfast spirit and resilience of the Jamaican people. This diverse array of artworks embodies the island’s rich heritage, serving as a beacon of inspiration for students, scholars, and visitors alike.