Flying the flag for local talent
Some achievements are worth sharing. And James Cooper definitely has one of those.
He is one of only a handful of international artists invited to take part in a prestigious art show in Kingston, Jamaica.
The 49-year-old was asked by the executive director of the National Gallery of Jamaica, Veerle Poupeye.
She remembered his work from when she was a juror with the Bermuda National Gallery’s Biennial a few years back.
“I was very excited to get invited,” said Mr Cooper.
“It was a big honour for me. They could have chosen anyone in the world.”
This is the first time international artists have been allowed into the Jamaica Biennial. Mr Cooper was one of six chosen.
The exhibition includes 120 pieces by 92 artists.
Mr Cooper’s work was put on display in historic Devon House in Kingston.
He had expected to exhibit in the regular gallery, so it came as a bit of a surprise to discover his work would be shown in a historic home.
It meant last-minute changes to his work.
The photographs he displayed as part of the 2014 Bermuda Biennial had cut-outs with a specially painted gallery wall showing through.
Mr Cooper had intended to do something similar in Jamaica, but quickly realised he was not going to be able to paint the wall of a stately home.
“It was a curious place,” he said. “It was still furnished and a bit daunting, a little like Verdmont Museum in Smith’s.
“I’m flexible and my art is flexible. I just moved some furniture around a bit to accommodate my art.”
Mr Cooper said he really enjoyed seeing the exhibition because the standard of art was very high.
“This is probably because Jamaica has a really good art school there, Edna Manley College,” he said.
“There was a real cross-section of stuff in the exhibition.
“There was a lot of classic painting but not classic subject matter. Everything was very polished and professional.
“The ideas and execution were tighter and more experimental to some degree than what you see in Bermuda.”
Mr Cooper took part in another Caribbean exhibition last year in Nassau, Bahamas.
“I get lumped in with Caribbean artists and it makes sense for me to pursue that angle,” he said.
“I think it is good for Bermuda, in general.
“Whenever I go places like that I tell them there are tonnes of other artists in Bermuda.”
Before travelling to Jamaica, many people in Bermuda warned him that Kingston was dangerous and scary.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Kingston was easy to get to and cheap when I was there. It seemed just as safe as Bermuda.”
For more, see Mr Cooper’s blog, atlanticjuice.tumblr.com; the National Gallery of Jamaica’s blog, nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com, or Devon House’s website, www.devonhousejamaica.com.
The exhibition runs until March 15.