Friday, April 24, 2015

Osmosis launch photos

Osmosis (link here) has positioned itself to be the
Caribbean's premier online arts portal.
I think it's an awesome idea!
Here are pictures from the launch,
which took place at Decor VIII,
(7 Hillcrest Avenue, Kingston, Jamaica), recently

Osmosis conceptualiser, Amitabh Sharma (second left) is surrounded by a
bevvy of beauties from left Heather Smith, Karen Carter and Wendy Jumpp.

Phillip Supersad plays the flute and accompanying drummers join in the beat.

Julian Robinson, minister of state in the Ministry of Science, Technology,
Energy and Mining, speaks at the launch event.

Osmosis Caribbean - Jamaica’s Premier Online Art Portal launched

Web initiative to market Jamaican and Caribbean fine art worldwide

It was a the perfect setting, starlight Caribbean skies, cozy ambiance, the beats of the drums resonated in the air to build up the crescendo as Jamaica’s premier online web initiative was launched on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

The gardens at 8 Hillcrest Avenue came alive; as this initiative took centrestage, in a launch event sponsored by Scotia Private Banking Group.

Osmosis Caribbean is taking Jamaican arts to the next level,” said Hon. Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, in his keynote presentation.

Minister Robinson added that initiatives such as Osmosis Caribbean reaffirm Jamaica’s strategic position, as a hub for information technology, nurturing entrepreneurial capacity and taking Brand Jamaica to a global scale.

“I wish this venture all the success,” the minister said, adding that this venture will encourage setting up of other e-commerce initiatives in Jamaica.

Mr. Roger Grant, Centre Director, Scotia Private Banking Group, while congratulating the principals of Osmosis Caribbean, reaffirmed his institution’s support to the fine arts.

“We at Scotia Bank have always supported arts, being the organizers of Celebration of Arts exhibition, encouraging and nurturing new and emerging talent,” Mr. Grant said.

“This is not merely a web initiative,” Mr. Grant continued. “Osmosis Caribbean is hallmark of e-commerce and how businesses are conducted in 21st Century.”

Unveiling the website, Mr. Amitabh Sharma, creator and the brains behind Osmosis Caribbean, expounded that the genesis of the concept was laid down during his deliberations with Art Gallery Décor VIII. “It is the birth of a new dimension and a new medium for the creative thought process,” Mr. Sharma, said, thanking Décor VIII for their support.

Osmosis Caribbean is an initiative that takes Jamaican and Caribbean fine arts beyond the stereotypical, giving it a international flavor and reach out to the global sphere,” Mr. Sharma said.

He further informed the guests that Osmosis Caribbean is a truly indigenous product, having being designed and developed in Jamaica. “This is a representation of Brand Jamaica, and exhibits the top class quality, that is second to none in the world.”

The crescendo to the unveiling transcended into a mystical sphere, with the beats of the drums lead by ace drummer and ceramist par excellence, Phillip Supersad.

Osmosis Caribbean will showcase a range of fine art – from the masters to the young and contemporary artists. “What sets us apart is the fact that we would issue certificate of authenticity, personally signed by the artist, along with the artwork purchased,” informed Mr. Sharma. “The art enthusiast will not only be assured of investing in a quality artwork but also get a personalized touch with their purchase, which they can cherish for a lifetime.”

Osmosis Caribbean wishes to thank their Media Partner Caribbean, Associated Partner WhittyGordon Projects and has committed its support to Chupse as their outreach partner.

The genesis of this venture was formed around the need to develop and harness an international market for Jamaican and Caribbean Fine Art, and authentic merchandise. 

The web initiative, conceptualized by Amitabh Sharma, a media professional, owner of Synapse Communications, a PR Consultancy, along with artists, marketing and technology specialists.

Osmosis, Caribbean’s 21st century initiative, will market and sell Jamaican and Caribbean fine art internationally. The venture seeks to converge the artists’ creations with technology, offering marketability of their works in the Caribbean and global high-end art marketplace. It is our endeavor to be agent for change. 

We will strive, constantly, to spread awareness of Caribbean’s art and artists; fulfill the demands of our consumer; and review the best creations in the market. We will provide new products and services; support and contribute to the artists’ community by hosting and supporting shows, events; and by promoting the Caribbean as an artist's oasis and destination.

For media queries and further information please contact: Amitabh Sharma, Synapse Communications, mobile: 1-876-339-2338 or email:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easton Lee’s ‘Kiss Mi Granny’ tells stories sweet like stew peas

It was “a wonderful stew peas evening” – from the first chords of Dr Carol Ball’s mini music segment, called ‘Sweet Riddims’, to the final sounds of Carole Reid singing old time Jamaican tunes, giving the audience a little ‘brawta’.

Jamaican culture and language were at the centre of Saturday evening’s celebration, even though the main purpose of the gathering was to launch Easton Lee’s fifth book, humorously titled ‘Kiss Mi Granny’.

Every presentation was rife with a mixture of patois and English, seasoned with anecdotes that elicited laughter from an enrapt audience. Chairperson Glynis Salmon, head of BalaPress, set the tone with a ‘Good Howdy-Do’, explaining that each of the evening’s segments would be likened to parts of the process of cooking a pot of stew peas.

After prayer by Father Laurius Lewis and a rendition of ‘Above All’ by songbird Andrae Shepherd, things went into slow simmer, with readings by Erica Allen, Fae Ellington, Leonie Forbes and Tiffani Robinson. Each lady read a praise poem from Lee’s book, giving the audience pause for reflection on the author’s love affair with his “Creator God”.

“Dance me, Lord, dance me,” read Ellington, the lilt and sway of her voice drawing the audience into a reverie of movement with the majestic. Leonie Forbes stoutly declared, “Dem sing and dance we story” – a poignant line from the poem ‘And When Dem Play and Sing’.

Carole Reid wrapped up the segment with her singing of ‘Oh My Gracious Father’, a song written by Lee to the tune of Puccini’s 'O Mio Babbino Caro’.

Then it was on to the second segment, and the simmer heated to a boil. Readings from Ellington, Forbes, Robinson, and Grace McGhie-Brown had the audience in stitches as they heard ‘Stories and Teachings From Granny’. The selections were jawbreakingly funny, and the readers emoted and expressed their roles like the veteran media and theatre personalities they were, to the amusement and delight of the audience.

Storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks read from the preface she wrote for the book, sharing that Easton introduced her to writing for radio, and helped her develop her “voice”, while admonishing her “vices”.  Professor Carolyn Cooper’s offering was a fitting reminder of one of Jamaica’s most famous ‘granny’ lines: “Mek fashion and tun yuh hand.”

“Only Easton Lee could have brought the cream of the creative arts and media together in such a satisfying mix,” said Steadman Fuller, keynote speaker for the evening, custos of Kingston and CEO of Kingston Bookshop, main distributors of Lee’s work.

Alluding to the stew peas imagery, he said that the readings gave “food for thought”, and brought to mind cultural icons Miss Lou (Louise Bennett), Maas Ran (Ranny Williams) and Miss Olive (Lewin). He added that Lee’s book was a call for a return to uplifting values like care and concern for each other, and said it should be made required reading in primary schools.

In his response in the evening’s final segment, Lee noted that one of his main motivations for writing ‘Kiss Mi Granny’ was “to give our younger generations an idea of what we were taught by our parents that have kept us”.

“We don’t pay enough attention to that wisdom and work ethic,” he lamented. “Do you know how many teachers, lawyers and doctors came out of that? That [work ethic] paid university fees for many of us.”

He went on to say that he strongly believed in living a life of purpose that would benefit younger generations. “Our life must be to help the young people to understand – to be proud of themselves and of Jamaica,” he said. “In God’s wisdom, he gave us each other. None of us can do without the other.”

In thanking everyone who attended the launch, or helped to make the book possible, he topped off what was truly an evening of sweet Jamaican stew with a line his own mother used very often: “God works in mischievous ways.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No judgement?

I have to shake my head and smile.

I'm at the taxi stand in New Kingston. Two taxi drivers are waiting for their respective vehicles to fill up with passengers. As is the custom with taxi men, they're killing the time with a conversation loud enough for the entire Knutsford Boulevard to hear.

"That's why me nuh judge nobody," Taxi Man One is saying. "A man can look pon you and decide seh because you look a certain way, him can class you. And then people catch on and start class you too. And nothing nuh go so!"

"Yeah man," Taxi Man Two chimed in. "Me hear seh them say him a B-man."

"Mek me tell you something," Taxi Man One rebuffed. "Me see him one day pon the stand, right? And me see a girl look like she a make a move to fi him car. So me not even a give her no check. But then she see me and start move toward my car and a say, 'wha gwaan, man? Long time no see.' So when she come inna the car, she a ask me wha me and him have because him tell her seh she and her B-man friend can gwaan. Me nuh say nothing. But now me a hear seh a so people a say. Yuh see because you look a certain way, people think say you a that ... But a you fi know what you know and nuh make nobody stop you from live your life."

His tone grows animated. You can tell he's getting irate.

"Them not even know me! Who ... A three babymother me have enuh!" And he continues the tirade until the taxi only needs one more person.

Across the street comes Mr Metrosexual, in a fitted pink-and-white striped shirt, briefcase in hand, walking with a sway. Taxi Man One points him out to his friend.

"Hey! Town?" He asks. The young man nods. 

"Me gone," he tells the other driver, then adds: "Him look like one a them."

They both laugh.

I have to shake my head and smile.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ode to a poetic gathering

Every time I visit The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, it feels like coming home. There's a delicious divinity about a group of arts-centred minds and bodies gathered in one creative space. Like the push and pull of the moon on waves and tides, it moves me.

Yesterday I sat in a semi-circle of poets expressing livity: dissecting different aspects of their lives with surgical precision, using words like scalpels to make incisions with similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia ... .

I marvelled again at my love for prose. My illicit affair with words: written, spoken, sung, mimed and danced. Words on a page, words floating in space, a word settled so comfortably on a tongue, caressed by an accent and expelled on hot air ...

I love it. 

I love the dichotomy of sounds, the variations of rhythms, the pleasure of a word riding the wave a lilting voice ... . A thought given life through the process of articulation, breathed like magic into a space that it occupies until it vaporises. Or evaporates.

I love it.

I love the potency and cogency of words. I like that the Bible says, "In the beginning was the word ...". It gives me an excuse. Because when people speak, or write really well, I see God. And I worship at that altar.

So yesterday, when I visited the poetry society's monthly meeting, I had an experience with the divine Word. Word.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sometimes you have to retreat ...

I went to a retreat this weekend.

It was, literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air.

I feel like I've been catapulted into a space of mental clarity. Like, for a brief moment, a supernatural force has decided to grant me the serenity I have for years been seeking.

I had to literally accept the things I couldn't change when my beautiful orange
scarf made a clandestine escape through a bus window, gracefully billowing its goodbye to my fellow travellers while I slept, oblivious to the fact that my favourite scarf was literally gone with the wind. I had to let that go. I mean, I loved that scarf. It's been three good years. But meh. Life goes on.

Once upon a time, I would have had a near-funeral for that scarf. The way I used to mourn lost jewellery. But God has granted me the serenity. Ase (pronounced ashay). And that's another thing I learnt this weekend: ase. It's a Ghanaian word. It means amen, with a little bit of selah, and a lot of shalom.

I like it: ase. There's something powerful about breathing that word - like a prayer in a sigh. Ase. And so it is. Let it be so. 

Acceptance. Surrender. Peace.

I had to surrender to bathing in cold water. And let me tell you, it was kowl! Again, God granted me the serenity. Because the option was to either bathe with cold water or not bathe at all. I almost didn't bathe. But good sense prevailed. A little cold never hurt anybody. Any. Body. Get it?

Anyway, that kind of corny is another thing.

And these people I was retreating with? The right kind of corny. Just wonderful. It was a collective of sistrins with one and two bredrens who were focused and centred. It was a safe space. I sat up late chatting with people about their life stories, forging a rich, deep connection grounded in shared experience.

It was authenticity to the point of unashamed vulnerability. I liked it. They were the kind of corny that spoke of feeling like they were losing something whenever they left the verdant richness of country to return to the hustle and bustle of Kingston. They were the kind of corny that could declare, "I need a lot of nature in my life."

I loved it. And they weren't just being emos the whole time. They were productive. They got stuff done. They made plans. They cast vision. They charted a future for an organisation ...

It was a beautiful casting off of the old, and an embracing of the new. And when I think of it, losing my scarf becomes symbolic. Why not let go? Why not let go of the inhibitions and embrace a new experience? Why not let go of cautious fear, and invest more of myself into a truly worthy cause?

Why not jump in, feet first, eyes closed, and immerse myself in the experience? Why not? Ase.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The joys of a good book

Sometimes I meet a book that so thoroughly demands my attention, everything else becomes peripheral to the immediate need to read. So baths, work, and all other responsibilities become secondary to this imperative of finishing this really good book.

 I found that in David Nicholls' 'Us'. Everything about this novel has left me gratified. Like a life-fulfilling achievement. The emotions are so very human and accessible. The writing is so calm and yet heart-tugging. The vocabulary so expansive and exact. I had to force myself to bathe and eat and go to work and complete my other chores (and, yes, they felt like laborious, unnecessary chores).

I had to remind myself that these other tasks don't just complete themselves. That I'm not 12 anymore, in that blissful age where I could just sit and read for hours undisturbed. I'm a big girl now. There are responsibilities to tend to. Adults don't get away with that sort of thing. There are repercussions for irresponsibility. 

In short, I had to be to myself what my mother was to me when I was 12 with my nose stuck in a good read. There were the dishes to wash, or my room to tidy or the yard to rake, or school to get ready for, or dinner to eat, or bed to go to. And where was I? Lost in some literary Neverland.

It's a pity I can't do that now! I mean, I could. But there would be consequences. So I cram everything else around lengthy reading spells. Until the last page, my life just kind of happens around the book.

And when the book is finished? Oh, I don't know. Finishing a good book is like parting with a dear friend. You love this person. You hate to see them go, but it's time. And the euphoria never lasts long enough.

If you're a writer, please write good books. I can't tell you how you're blessing the world with that gift. Some little nerd-girl is waiting for you to give her something to bury her head into. Give her a reason to forsake the mundane and get lost in the fantastic.

Some grown woman is looking for an excuse for temporary irresponsibility. And temporary insanity. (You know that look people give you when you burst out laughing at a joke in the book that you don't want to share? Like you're crazy?).

So write good books. Please.