Archive for October, 2010

Blue Mountain Part II

Some more pictures from the trip to the Blue Mountains in September.

National Gallery of Jamaica, Downtown Kingston

The National Gallery of Jamaica houses a surprisingly delightful collection of art, with examples of pieces from each tumultuous era of the island’s history since about 1000 a.d.

Much of Jamaica's art is influenced by its history of slavery, and rebellion against that oppression

The Edna Manley collection is especially impressive, of course. I have been here almost two months, and already the Bogle image is very recognizable. The meaning and iconography, however, is something I didn’t really understand before seeing the well constructed gallery, on display through November, that steps visitors through the history and current discourse surrounding the man turned icon.

I love old maps - they have a great collection of them

Edna Manley's Bogle sculpture, or one of them

Also amazing is the neighborhood that the National Gallery calls home. Downtown Kingston has undergone a good deal of revitalization the past years, but it is still striking to see some of the most prominent state institutions – the Supreme Court, many national agencies – tucked in the midst of stinky market places, hardly legal “wholesale” markets, and wandering goats.

Human Rights Law

Perhaps the gravity of the issues the fine folks at the Independent Jamaican Council on Human Rights have to deal with every day has something to do with their irrepressible and contagious good nature and ability to have a good time.

The Council draws lawyers and interns from around the world to join the amazing Jamaicans working (and mostly volunteering) there – presently, there is an inspired group consisting of lawyers and students from England, India, Spain, the USA, and other countries.

Friday and Saturday of this week, the Norman Manley School of Law, at the University of the West Indies, hosted a seminar on Human Rights in the Inter-American System. Human rights advocates, policy makers, journalists, and academics from around the region came together in Jamaica to discuss everything from Jamaica’s place in the system to the ongoing problem of extra-judicial killing in the country to education and human rights to the future of the Inter-american system.

Tropical Storm Nicole

Kingston’s transportation and drainage infrastructure was not, unfortunately, planned with the greatest of foresight. It is evident that the valleys and gullies that naturally channeled water down the Blue Mountains and into the sea were systematically filled so that houses and roads could be built to accommodate the ever-expanding city of Kingston.

The result is too few places for too much water to go, and the people and their government are plagued by flooding, often deadly, on a yearly basis.

Tropical Storm Nicole recently made its way across the Caribbean, lingering over Jamaica, resulting in at least 10 deaths across the island and the washing away of multiple roads and bridges.

These shots are from just a few places in Kingston. At the peak of its strength, the flow of water in the gully running across the road was sweeping away volleyball sized rocks, as well as the occasional washing machine, like so many feathers.