Paint Jamaica project with the first milestone recently completed at 41 Fleet St, Kingston, Jamaica, that has now become the biggest street art space in the island is moving on to the next big project, as founder of the project, Marianna Farag, and so do we, hope this is only the beginning -and not the end- of a new movement in Jamaica.
For a next project to happen, “Paint Jamaica” is entirely dependent on contributions, and the new crowdfund has just been set up.
If you would like to help out, please click here to contribute: http://tinyurl.com/m3ykldq Feel free to also share the link!
To date, the support and feedback of the Paint Jamaica project at Fleet St. has been tremendous. A high level of excitement has been generated namely because the initiative is a first of its kind in Jamaica. Via social media, Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans alike are following the movement. Paint Jamaica has received support from the iconic music label Tuff Gong Worldwide and Ziggy Marley himself. The impact has been extremely positive on the local community: with their involvement, new skills are being transferred and individuals have been inspired to creatively express themselves. Furthermore, the mere act of changing the visual landscape helps reduce crime and littering. Of note, police surveillance has now increased around Fleet Street. Marianna points out that “people have told us that when you beautify a street, locals are more likely to want to protect and preserve it… hence keeping unlawful possibilities.
Most importantly however, we were able to achieve a social impact on the community, such as:
– Raising awareness on the Parade Gardens neighborhood. Art acts like a magnet and has brought in an influx of people (including travelers)- many who had never heard of/been to Parade Gardens before.
– Boosting self esteem & a sense of pride among residents. Many have told us that they were extremely appreciative of such an initiative taking place in their community.
– Community engagement- children especially, who were more often then not painting with us and unleashing their creative spark
– Increased police surveillance on Fleet St… translating into increased security for the residents in the immediate vicinity.
– Creating new opportunities for local residents such as “Life Yard”, who were able to thrive off their catering services and their extremely popular natural juices (which they are now selling on a weekly basis!)
– Providing new platforms for local artists to display their work and thus, highlighting Jamaica’s rich creative potential and talent.
– Last but not least, sparking new movements such as Plant Jamaica, led by Andrew Bruce (contact: [email protected]) . We hope the snowball effect continues to get bigger and bigger…
Paint Jamaica project
The Paint Jamaica project started in July 2014 when a group of Jamaican artists and a French traveler got together and decided to bring art into the streets of Kingston in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. The idea at heart was to change and revolutionize the relationship between art, talent and society. However, along with creative expression, Paint Jamaica had a greater social cause which was to change the negative stigma around Kingston’s inner cities. With this vision in mind, the team embarked on a ten day project of beautifying the walls of a gigantic abandoned warehouse at 41 Fleet Street in Parade Gardens- an inner city that few Kingstonians had been to, yet even heard of.
For over a month, prior to bringing brush-to-wall, the Paint Jamaica team had been connecting with the residents of Parade Gardens to understand their aspirations. This feedback translated into dazzling murals led by talented artists such as Taj Francis, Matthew McCarthy, Djet Layne and Kokab Zohoori-Dossa . “We did not want to come in and impose a vision” explains Marianna, founder and project manager of Paint Jamaica. “This is their community, and after we leave, these walls belong to them… so the community has to drive our creative vision”. Some of the popular themes that came up were unity, education, peace and boosting self-esteem.
With over twenty walls to paint, Paint Jamaica launched a social media campaign with an open call for artists to be a part of the adventure- as long as they were willing to paint murals with an uplifting and positive message. Talented individuals rolled in from all over Kingston- and surpassed the original number of artists that were required. Paint Jamaica thus grew and evolved into a movement of democratic art and as a true community project, engaging volunteers of all backgrounds and the residents of Parade Gardens. Hand in hand, they transformed an abandoned space into a new landmark that is day after day, capturing the attention of thousands of Jamaicans, the local media and more recently favourite local artistes such as Tessanne Chin, who spontaneously came to pay a visit at 41 Fleet Street.
“The reality is that as artists this is what we always hoped for, even while in at school: to be able to contribute to changing the visual landscape of our country,” said Matthew McCarthy, who had become somewhat of a mentor to one of the community artists.
For fellow artist, Taj Francis, the project is really about changing the feelings that people have towards inner-city Kingston. Kokab Zohoori-Dossa, the only female artist on the team, takes the time out to interact with the young girls who come to admire their progress.
“I see the kind of environment they’ve grown up in, with the skin bleaching and straightening of the hair. I wanted to promote natural beauty, getting them to accept themselves as young, black girls,” Kokab Zohoori-Dossa said.
Referencing her painting of a woman, which community members fondly call the “queen”, Zohoori-Dossa wants these girls to see themselves that way — beautiful.
Paint Jamaica was financially possible with the support of a crowdfunding initiative and non-monetary donations from local companies such as Diamond Paints, National Baking, True Rapid Value, Sun Island Company and Kremi.
Paint Jamaica has plans to carry the movement across Jamaica- and potentially in other countries too. The focus will remain to inspire people to embellish and transform their visual surroundings through democratic art… in unexpected ways and unexpected places.
Photos by Jik-Reuben, Randy Richards and Marianna Farag.
PAINT JAMAICA – THE TEAM
1. Matthew McCarthy (the i.deal.ist) – “National Sign Painter” – our talented illustrator and street artist. “There is a limited understanding around the creative potential in Jamaica”
2. Taj Francis- the “Visual Mix Master”- our talented illustrator and street artist. “People will keep thinking it cannot be done…until they see it happening in front of them”
3. Kokab Zohoori-Dossa – “Miss Mark Maker- our talented illustrator and street artist. “I’m interested in any initiative to give back and help innercity communities that are often stigmatized as bad or dangerous. As an artist, I feel like art would be the best way for me to contribute, and Paint Jamaica is the right platform to do that.”
4. Djet Layne- the “Paint Dragon”- our talented illustrator and street artist. “When people see projects happening in front of them, it gives them more strength. We want to inspire people to pursue their passion”
5. Jik-Reuben – our “Visual Ninja”- videographer and photographer, and the man behind the REAL TALK video series! “Its time for the youths to rise with positive vibration and to see a world full of colour, love and unity. I’m on board with Paint Jamaica to document and see this become a Regality(Reality).”
6. Randy Richards- the “Visual Thinker”- and one of our incredible photographers at Paint Jamaica. “If we want real change we have to first grasp the wheel. If we want action we have to get out and do what we can no matter how small we may perceive it to be. Every effort counts. Every bit adds up. Every mickle mek a muckle”
7. Gladstone Taylor – “Literary Shaman” – talented writer who will be sharing his words and thoughts throughout the Paint Jamaica project. “With this project being interactive, we can start a real dialogue with various communities…in Jamaica and around the world”
8. Christopher Lee Murray- “Th’Ink-King”- Paint Jamaica team member and a brainchild of the universe… his thoughts become ink. “The passion one has for his tasks is what creates true progress, it’s not solely the knowledge. People don’t just need education, as there’s a stronger need for inspiration.”
9. Marianna Farag – the “Restless Mind”- founder of Paint Jamaica, photographer and Jamaica lover. “As cliche as this may sound- I believe that each and everyone of us has the ability to make a change… and that there are more good people -then bad- in this world. All it takes is an open heart. I have fallen in love with Jamaica and the creative talent & energy that exists here!”
Plant Jamaica is an organic offshoot of Paint Jamaica. It is both a self sustainable and viable grass-roots initiative . Plant Jamaica aims to create sustainable farms in small inner city communities with the aid of farmers, artists and education. The project kicked off at “LIFE YARD” who are situated right across 41 Fleet St where the Paint Jamaica project came alive. Behind the zinc fence walls of their neighbourhood, the Life Yard collective have transformed an empty strip of land into a small farm. “Eat what you grow, grow what you eat” is their philosophy and helps them to become self-sustainable, especially when times are rough. A Life Yard member explains: “This space provides relief for the community. For example, when I’m hungry, I can just pick off ackee from the tree.” An opportunity was identified to further build on Life Yard’s initiative and help grow their farm, build a sustainable green space and restaurant in Kingston’s inner city. PLANT JAMAICA will provide resources to enhance the Life Yard farm and benefit the community on many levels by encouraging locals to eat what they grow, and grow what they eat.
Follow the project at www.facebook.com/plantjamaica
For further information, please contact [email protected]