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Ebony G Patterson Cops Aaron Matalon Award, Camille Chedda and Kemani Beckford Tie for Dawn Scott Award

Ebony G Patterson (left) Kimani Beckford and Camille Chedda

Ebony G. Patterson copped the prestigious 2014 Aaron Matalon Award, finally snagging the medal which has been eluding her, as she had been nominated for three times. The win this year seems especially fitting, coming on the heels of Patterson’s successful participation in Art Basel 2015 which included her being listed among 11 artists to  watch. 

“After being nominated for three biennials well ... finally,” Patterson says with an easy smile when asked about the win.

Indeed, Patterson’s enigmatic ‘The Observation (Bush Cockerel) - A Fictitious History’ lost to Jasmine Thomas Girvan’s ‘Dreaming Backward’ and ‘Occupy (Alchemy of Promise) on the 2012 award by a single point. 

Ebony G Patterson's 'Lillies, Carnations and Rose Budz' (contributed)Patterson’s 2014  work comes from her Dead Treez series and comprises two floor-based installations ‘Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds’ and ‘Trunk Stump and Dominoes’. The pieces continue Patterson’s exploration of the cultural and social implications of violence and death in Jamaican society and are being exhibited at Devon House, one of the three locations for Jamaica Biennial 2014.

The Aaron Matalon Award is given to the work that is deemed to make the greatest contribution to the exhibition and is selected by the combined Acquisitions and Exhibitions committees. 

“It’s been an extremely overwhelming year. It’s been a really great year,” said Patterson.  “I’m incredibly grateful because I know not many people get this opportunity.”

Patterson is currently one of Jamaica’s most outstanding and internationally acclaimed visual artists, but she points out that her success at Art Basel is a reflection of the fertile state of visual arts in the region at present.

“It speaks volumes about what is happening here,” she said. The 2014 Biennial is certainly proof of the vibrancy of the art scene and Executive Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica, Veerle Poupeye pointed out that Renee Cox and Leasho Johnson tied as runners up for this year’s Aaron Matalon award.

The Jamaica Biennial also featured the introduction of a new award, The Dawn Scott Memorial Award instituted by art critic Edward G. Gomez, in honour of Scott. Gomez remarked that the high calibre of work on display made selecting a winner quite difficult, and in the end, he selected two: Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford.Camille Chedda poses with 'Wholesale Degradables'

Gomez described Beckford’s BIB as ‘enigmatic’ and Chedda’s ‘Wholesale Degradables’ as “fresh and compelling”.

“I feel good. It’s encouraging and I hope the award will coninue to be something that they do at the Biennial” Chedda said. She explained that the portraits on plastic bags is a natural progression in her work and is a striking commentary on police brutality, in Jamaica but with resonances elsewhere.

“I’ve been interested in what is disposable and what is degradable,” Chedda explained.

Kemani Beckford stands beside B.I.B“Just to be in the Biennial, that’s awesome,” said Beckford, who received a Prime Minister’s Youth Award in 2011, who also agrees to the win is encouraging.

“It’s a good look,” he says with a smile. “ Because you’re not working toward the awrd, it’s very significant when you get it.”

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 officially opened its doors on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Downtown Kingston.

Edited: December 23, 2014 to reflect correct spelling to 'Kimani Beckford'