Born 1944, Jamaica. Began photography 1963 when assigned by British VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas/ Peace Corps) to Museum of Antiquities, Ife, Nigeria. 1965 enrolled at Rhode Island School of Design. Dean’s List student, winning prizes in painting and filmmaking (“MM” animated film on Marilyn Monroe won Best Film Under Three Minutes at 1967 Ann Arbor & Rhode Island International Film Festival). 1972 began photographing Jamaica. 1976 initiated a hundred-hour series of audio recordings with a former sugar estate worker, later transcribed to 400-plus pages of gross text. 1994 twenty-four exhibition prints from THE OLD JAMAICA SERIES gifted to the National Gallery of Jamaica.
These photographs have their roots from a childhood in rural Jamaica. My father Frederick had been a photographer with his own black & white darkroom in the 1920s and recorded many classic images of sugar estate life from the period. He first interested me in picture taking. In due course I took up painting but in the end considered photography a ‘more practical’ and equally satisfying means of picture making.
The project to photograph ‘Old Jamaica’ had its origin in studies of the history of art & photography at Rhode Island School of Design in the late sixties. The Stone Breakers, 1849, by Gustave Courbet, the paintings of Jean-Francois Millet and Vincent van Gogh became iconic images that I was able to revisit while traveling in Jamaica in the 1970s, as I came upon scenes that surprisingly were familiar as illustrations from my art history books.
The opportunity to ‘turn back the clock’ and make photographs of an earlier Jamaica proved irresistible. There was a sense of urgency too: Seaside mansions in Black River were already crumbling, Tinsmiths were giving way to plastic; boiled wet-sugar, mule-powered cane hoists and the hammering of roadside Stonebreakers, all were to disappear—while cotton tree canoes, donkey carts and Jackass Rope remain.
To try to capture on film these passing aspects of Jamaican culture, to record ‘history’ from present-day life, to make photographs that belie their age, this has been my pleasure with the camera.