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As an outstanding artist, professional and mentor, Barrington Watson’s contribution to the Arts & Culture in Jamaica spans fifty years. In fact, Barrington Watson has honed and molded the lives of generations of artists, primarily through his work as the first Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art and his award winning body of work.
Barrington Watson has become a household name in Jamaica, best described as a national cultural icon. He has painted fine examples of not only Jamaica’s beautiful women but its landscapes, churches, the man in the street, the worker, the mother and the child. His works document and preserve the story of Jamaica, its history, battles and triumphs. It can easily be said that his works are the most collected in Jamaica. Of great note is his philanthropic gesture in leaving his estate “Orange Park” in St. Thomas as a cultural legacy to the people of Jamaica. ShopMyJamaica.com is proud to be able to bring you a selection of some of his finest works, authenticated by the artist himself and sold with a certificate of authentication.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
(Courtesy: National Gallery of Jamaica. Adapted)
Born in Hanover Jamaica in January 1932, Barrington Watson received his early education at Kingston College. In 1951 he left Jamaica to pursue artistic studies at the London School of Printing and Graphic Art, and was later selected from a field of many students to receive a scholarship for admission to the Royal College of Art – the first West Indian to achieve such a distinction. He later won several other scholarships tenable at institutions such as the Rijks Academia in Amsterdam, Holland, the Academia de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, France, the Academia di Belle Arti in Rome, Italy, and the Academia de las Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain. At the same time, his growing international recognition resulted in many one-man exhibitions and participation in group exhibitions in the U.K. and other countries, including his home country, Jamaica. Upon completion of his academic training, Barrington Watson lived and worked in Nigeria, Ghana, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, the U.S.A. and Canada in order to absorb and appreciate the singular cultural traditions of these countries.
The major works produced during this period have since been hung in permanent public and private collections such as the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Library in Austin, Texas, the National Galleries of Canada and Jamaica, the Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. and the Whitney Collection in New York.
Barrington Watson is also an eminent educator of the arts and was chosen on several occasions to offer courses at national and private institutions. From 1962-66 he served as the first Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art and later taught at the University of the West Indies, the Maidstone College of Art and the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts in the U.K., and was also artist-in-residence and later visiting professor of art at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Barrington Watson has often represented Jamaica at major international biennial exhibitions, among them the Sao Paulo (Brazil), Rijeka (Yugoslavia) and Madrid (Spain) biennials. He has been instrumental in founding several associations designed to create opportunities for young artists such as the Young Commonwealth Artists’ Association in London, established in 1958, and the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association which he co-founded in 1964.
In 1974, Barrington established his own gallery of art, the Gallery Barrington, at varying locations in Kingston, Jamaica. Presently the Gallery is located at 75 Old Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica. The chief aim of the Gallery is to extend assistance and encouragement to growing artists and as an exhibition centre for recognized artists from Jamaica and other countries.
Barrington's many awards include the Special Award by the Spanish Bienalle at the First Barcelona International Exhibition in 1967, a Fulbright professorship in 1971, and a Gold Medal at the 1974 Jamaica Festival. In 1978, he was specially commissioned by the Canadian Government to represent the West Indies in the making of a print portfolio as its official gift to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, commemorating the XI Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Canada. In 2012 a Retrospective was mounted in his honour at the National Gallery of Jamaica. And in September 2013 he received the prestigious American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Business and Civic Leadership Awards in the category of Excellence for Arts & Culture.
Barrington Watson on a visit to the Cooper’s Hill home and studio of another renowned Jamaican icon in the field of art, Alexander Cooper in December 2013. Photographs courtesy RMS Photography.