Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
"I felt really inspired by Wandeka today. One day I want to be just like her and open my own exhibit." That is what 15-year-old Samantha Brown of St Catherine High School told The Sunday Gleaner at the art exhibit titled 'Celebrating Jamaica in Watercolour'. It was held at the Redbones Blues Café last Thursday.
American-based Jamaican artist, Wandeka Gayle, made her return to Jamaica last week to showcase her latest watercolour paintings under the theme 'Celebrate Jamaica' in commemoration of the island's grand jubilee.
Gayle has been working as a professional artist since 2005 and was launched on to the art scene by Jamaican oil painter, Andy Ballentine. She is a self-taught artist known for portraying the whimsical, picturesque quality of Jamaican landscape, seascape, and flora in watercolour and acrylic.
"In everything I do, all of the pieces reflect Jamaica's positive aspects such as natural resources, the market scenes, beach scenes, rivers, and even the country roads. These are things that people take for granted, but when you put it in a frame, people get to see how beautiful and inspiring Jamaica really is," Gayle told The Sunday Gleaner.
Gayle also launched an anthology of poetry titled Jamaican Inspiration, which features eight of her poems. They reflect Gayle's love of the simple, humorous, and poignant aspects of Jamaican life. She also shares six pages of her specially selected paintings of actual Jamaican seascapes, landscapes, still life, and a portrait of Jamaican reggae icon, Bob Marley. These accompanying pieces help to illustrate the feeling and content of each poem.
"I started to realise my love for poetry during a creative writing class in 2010. I taught writing before, but even then, I didn't consider myself a poet. I asked my creative writing teacher if my work is reflecting too much of Jamaica. He said, 'No, however, it's your identity; it's what makes you who you are'," Gayle added.
She also had successful solo exhibitions in Michigan and Georgia in the United States. "The reception is good as there are people from the Jamaican diaspora who are very glad to see Jamaica represented. It makes me feel like an ambassador, in a sense. The foreign people also like it - always asking me to tell them more about Jamaica and how the paintings make them want to visit," she said.