Prof Rex Nettleford (1933-2010) was a brilliant undergraduate at the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI); an Oxford University postgrad on a Rhodes scholarship who was renowned for his choreographic as well as his intellectual work; a dynamic academic, social and cultural actor back in post-independence Jamaica and on the regional and world stage; Vice-Chancellor of his alma mater, the by then UWI from 1998-2004. In 2003, Oxford University honoured him with an Honorary Degree on the centenary of the Rhodes Trust which has increasingly garnered criticism over the record of Cecil Rhodes, for whom the Trust and scholarships are known; and the Rhodes Trust also established a Cultural Studies fellowship in his name.
The Rhodes Trust has now commissioned Jamaican artist Michael Brooks to paint a portrait of Prof Nettleford, which will hang in Rhodes House, Oxford. For the week before it is shipped to the UK, and with permission, the painting is on display at the UWI Museum – creating a special opportunity for those who would like to view it. Peter Goldson, Jamaica and Caribbean secretary to the Rhodes Trust said: “the Warden of Rhodes House and I are delighted with the exquisite portrait by Michael Brooks of a great Jamaican and Rhodes scholar, Hon. Rex Nettleford.”
Appropriately, the painting is positioned within our semi-permanent exhibition on the Origins of the University of the West Indies.
A small exhibition titled ‘Remembering Rex Nettleford’ hangs in the corridor between the UWI Museum and the University Archives within the UWI Regional Headquarters Building at Mona, Jamaica.