Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia “Babsy” Grange has announced the commissioning of a Cricket Wall of Fame and Walk of Fame at the historic Sabina Park on South Camp Road, Kingston; as well as the commissioning of murals at the historic Public Broadcasting Corporation (formerly JBC) complex in Half-Way-Tree.
Importantly, the Wall of Fame at Sabina Park will depict 19 of Jamaica's cricketing legends and is part of Jamaica's largest contiguous mural in the ministry's pioneering Jamaica Creative: Paint Up Yuh Creative Space Project.
The on-going mural project started in December 2019. At that time, the Culture Minister engaged the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and had addressed its Council meeting to announce her plans for a series of murals across the city.
Minister Grange highlighted the collaborative approach by both the KSAMC and Mayor Delroy Williams and her ministry at the time, saying, “This project for a series of murals across the city of Kingston is not only in keeping with my vision for the UNESCO Creative City, but is also one shared by Mayor Williams as well.”
The minister further stated that, “by utilising walls, fences, buildings and public spaces in and around the creative city, the Jamaica Creative: Paint Up Yuh Creative Space project will draw on the creativity and artistic talents of communities in the KMR [Kingston Metropolitan Region] to reflect our identity in mural form and frame. The aim is to change how art is viewed by communities and identify ways of allowing sections or whole communities to become a part of living art.”
The Windrush Mural Project
A month later, in January 2020, the culture ministry collaborated with the British Council to work on the Windrush Mural Project. This initiative celebrated the Windrush Generation (people from Jamaica and the Caribbean who left the region, beginning in 1948 on the ship, The Empire Windrush). This mass migration of people from Jamaica, left from the old Customs House at Victoria Pier, in downtown Kingston, in May 1948, and sailed to Essex, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh and other port cities in the United Kingdom where they settled. A collection of murals was unveiled at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, where they can still be viewed by both departing and arriving passengers.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport's partnership with the KSAMC came to fruition and murals were erected at Temple Lane in downtown Kingston and in the historic town of Port Royal.
In April 2021, the Ministry of Culture embarked on yet another mural, this time at the historic Sabina Park, the home of cricket in Jamaica. The work, titled “ Celebration!” continued the established tradition of multi-stakeholder partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, which engaged the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and Sabina Park Holdings 2005 Ltd. The project also received the support of the Embassy of Mexico in Jamaica, represented by Ambassador Juan Jose Gonzalez Mijares.
Celebration! features the work of acclaimed Mexican muralist and street artist Irving Cano Gomes, who was born on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico, and who identifies with his indigenous Zapotec heritage. The mural facilitated the coming together of the rich talent of Mexico, with local creatives such as Ricardo “Majestic” Hines, Brighton Brown and female muralist Tavian Brooks.
Speaking on the aspect of capacity and skills development, Minister Grange said, “this rich mix of ethnicity and talent is what culture is all about. By sharing their skills and creative genius, the muralists embody the spirit of cultural cooperation that underpin the work of my ministry. Post COVID-19 we plan to have our local muralists engage in similar projects in Mexico and around the globe as we facilitate capacity development and engender mutual respect and appreciation of different cultures.”
Further explaining the concept of Celebration!, the Minister said that “there are male and female silhouettes of cricketers who are currently shown performing batting shots, bowling, and fielding.”
Good Timing for Jamaica’s Cricket Wall and Walk of Fame
Sabina Park will be the host of two consecutive Test matches between Pakistan and the West Indies from August 12 to 16 and August 20 to 24, 2021. Referring to the upcoming Test series, Grange said that, “I am now very excited to that our Wall of Fame and Walk of Fame will be ready to be seen by an international, virtual audience numbering in the millions in August. Our project is not just timely, it also celebrates the 91st anniversary of the first Test match held at Sabina Park, between England and the West Indies, in 1930. It is only fitting, then, that we erect both a Wall of Fame to honour select Jamaican cricket legends, and a Wall of Fame which honours players and administrators who have contributed to the development of the game of cricket, using the wall at Sabina as a canvas.”
The Wall of Fame and Walk of Fame are the creative expression of Jamaican artists who were carefully selected for the project. A group of 20, comprising Jamaican muralists and their support staff, have already begun painting, with each cricketing legend being assigned to a lead muralist.
Minister Grange announced that among the 19 cricketers to be represented on the South Camp Road perimeter wall will be legends including George Headley, Jackie Hendricks, Courtney Walsh, Michael Holding, Jeffery Dujon, Jimmy Adams, Stafanie Taylor, and Christopher Gayle.
Additionally, the minister announced that the Walk of Fame, situated on George Headley Drive, will feature other cricketers who have contributed significantly to the development of Jamaica and West Indies cricket, along with administrators and technical personnel, including retired International Cricket Council (ICC) umpire Steve Bucknor and respected groundsman Charlie Joseph.
At the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) complex at South Odeon Avenue, in the heart of Half-Way-Tree, a mural has been painted depicting Miss Lou (Louise Bennett) and the children from the long-running JBC Ring Ding series. This mural was erected by top Jamaican muralist Taj Francis, accompanied by Matthew McArthy and Miss Kokab Dossa.
Another expansive mural covers 'Domes' which formerly housed radio recording studios at the complex. That mural, which depicts the history of Jamaica and celebrates its cultural forms such as Kumina, Revival and Rastafari, along with Reggae artistes and our athletes is being erected by Art Evolution.
The Jamaica Creative: Paint Up Yuh Creative Space Project complements on-going initiatives of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport in fulfilment of Jamaica's obligations as a signatory to UNESCO's 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In this regard, the project has also facilitated the transfer of skills among regional muralists and fostered regional networking, and the free movement of artists.
This is a strategic undertaking for Jamaica as Minister Grange highlighted that: “2021 is the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, and my ministry has further advanced the mural project to provide economic opportunities for our local creatives who have been so negatively impacted by the novel caronavirus pandemic.” Grange added that, “I invite the Jamaican public to give our creatives their support as we erect a series of murals across the Kingston Metropolitan Area which will be extended to the entire island.”