The National Gallery of Jamaica has just announced its upcoming exhibition titled Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons, which will open to the public on Sunday, September 26.
This research-based exhibition examines the iconographies of Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion, with a specific focus on Edna Manley’s Bogle monument and the assumed photograph of Paul Bogle. The photograph was uncovered in the late 1950s and, while there are unresolved questions about its attribution, has become the de facto official representation of Paul Bogle. Edna Manley’s Bogle was unveiled in 1965 as the official monument to the Morant Bay rebellion and was located in front of the historic Morant Bay courthouse until it was recently removed for restoration. A second, truncated version can be seen in the 1865 Memorial at National Heroes Park in Kingston.
Already at the time of its unveiling in 1965, Edna Manley’s Bogle met with controversy – as has been the case with several other public monuments in Jamaica – and the debate has again flared up recently. The relationship between Edna Manley’s symbolist representation of Bogle and what is believed to be his “true likeness” in the photograph has played a significant role in these debates – the “contest of icons” of the exhibition title. The exhibition will also include other representations of Bogle, the Morant Bay Rebellion and related subjects, in official representations, such as postal stamps, coins and bank notes, as well as the work of other Jamaican artists, such as Barrington Watson, Everald Brown, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Christopher Gonzales, Omari Ra, and Michael Thompson.
Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons seeks to contribute to the debates that have surrounded the representation of Bogle and the Morant Bay rebellion and will have an interactive component: members of the public will be encouraged to share their thoughts on the subject in a special comments book in the exhibition itself or online at the NGJ blog.
The opening function on Sunday, September 26 will start at 11 am and the guest speaker will be the Hon. Barbara Gloudon, O.J. Mrs. Gloudon has, in her journalistic practice, regularly commented on the controversies that have surrounded public monuments in Jamaica, including Edna Manley’s Bogle.
Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons will continue until November 13, 2010. The exhibition will thus be on view during Heritage Week and represents the National Gallery’s contribution to the 2010 Heritage Week program. A catalogue publication with research essays will be available and the accompanying education program will be announced shortly.