Distinct groups visit the UWI Museum, as recent weeks have shown. There are those who come singly and those who come together; those directly connected to the university in some way and some from the wider community; some with a broad interest and those with a very specific focus.
Among those coming in ones and twos in recent days have been those interested in celebrating the contribution that engineer, builder and art patron AD Scott made to the Jamaican landscape. Scott, who died in 2004, has been the subject of an exhibition ending July 22. The extent of that contribution and the speed with which aspects of it have been forgotten, has been a point of comment. The importance of completing a national monument – commissioned by Scott as Chairman of the Monuments Committee in 1962, sculpted by iconic Jamaican sculptor Alvin Marriot over many years and in the face of varied responses, and still unfinished – has been underlined.
Some have also come to take in the works of art from the University of the West Indies’ AD Scott Collection, 25 works donated by Scott in 1994 in response to an approach by Professor Brian Meeks, then of the UWI’s Faculty of Social Sciences. Meeks, now Director of the university’s Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social & Economic Studies (SALISES), launched the current exhibition.
Artists including sculptor Valerie Bloomfield, who has done several commissions for the UWI, and Stafford Schliefer, have been among those appreciating the work of iconic Caribbean artists whose work is included in the collection. On display have been major pieces by Carl Abrahams, Seya Parboosingh, Karl Parboosingh, Christopher Gonzales, Alexander Cooper, Erwin de Vries, Aubrey Williams, Everald Brown, Barrington Watson, Whitney Miller, George Rodney and Eugene Hyde. The AD Scott Collection also includes works by Edna Manley, Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds and AD Scott himself; however these were not available for exhibition or are mounted permanently in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Special groups have included the family of an early alumnus, Ken Hamilton, a well known Jamaican athlete of his time who died early, but who is still captured as an undergraduate in a 1953 film on the then university college.
Officials, alumni and members of the wider public have been among those captured on camera as they ruminated on what they knew or were learning of the Scott legacy, or on the history of the UWI. Just today, we had two UWI students interested in the meaning of the pelican which is the symbol widely used to represent the university. The brown Caribbean pelican was chosen for its nurturing qualities as well as its regional reach, when the coat of arms was being designed decades ago.