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PAINT JAMAICA - The Incredible Social & Art Intervention
The Paint Jamaica project started in July 2014 when a group of Jamaican artists and a French traveler got together and
decided to bring art into the streets of Kingston in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. The idea at heart was to
change and revolutionize the relationship between art, talent and society. However, along with creative expression,
Paint Jamaica had a greater social cause which was to change the negative stigma around Kingston's inner cities. With
this vision in mind, the team embarked on a ten day project of beautifying the walls of a gigantic abandoned warehouse
at 41 Fleet Street in Parade Gardens- an inner city that few Kingstonians had been to, yet even heard of.
For over a month, prior to bringing brush-to-wall, the Paint Jamaica team had been connecting with the residents of
Parade Gardens to understand their aspirations. This feedback translated into dazzling murals led by talented artists
such as Taj Francis, Matthew McCarthy, Djet Layne and Kokab Zohoori-Dossa . "We did not want to come in and impose
a vision” explains Marianna, founder and project manager of Paint Jamaica. “This is their community, and after we leave,
these walls belong to them... so the community has to drive our creative vision". Some of the popular themes that came
up were unity, education, peace and boosting self-esteem.
With over twenty walls to paint, Paint Jamaica launched a social media campaign with an open call for artists to be a
part of the adventure- as long as they were willing to paint murals with an uplifting and positive message. Talented
individuals rolled in from all over Kingston- and surpassed the original number of artists that were required. Paint
Jamaica thus grew and evolved into a movement of democratic art and as a true community project, engaging
volunteers of all backgrounds and the residents of Parade Gardens. Hand in hand, they transformed an abandoned
space into a new landmark that is day after day, capturing the attention of thousands of Jamaicans, the local media and
more recently favourite local artistes such as Tessanne Chin, who spontaneously came to pay a visit at 41 Fleet Street.
"The reality is that as artists this is what we always hoped for, even while in at school: to be able to contribute to
changing the visual landscape of our country," said Matthew McCarthy, who had become somewhat of a mentor to one
of the community artists.
For fellow artist, Taj Francis, the project is really about changing the feelings that people have towards inner-city
Kokab Zohoori-Dossa, the only female artist on the team, takes the time out to interact with the young girls who come
to admire their progress.
"I see the kind of environment they've grown up in, with the skin bleaching and straightening of the hair. I wanted to
promote natural beauty, getting them to accept themselves as young, black girls," she said.
Referencing her painting of a woman, which community members fondly call the "queen", Zohoori-Dossa wants these
girls to see themselves that way — beautiful.
To date, the support and feedback has been tremendous. A high level of excitement has been generated namely
because the initiative is a first of its kind in Jamaica. Via social media, Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans alike are following
the movement. Paint Jamaica has received support from the iconic music label Tuff Gong Worldwide and Ziggy Marley
himself. The impact has been extremely positive on the local community: with their involvement, new skills are being
transferred and individuals have been inspired to creatively express themselves. Furthermore, the mere act of changing
the visual landscape helps reduce crime and littering. Of note, police surveillance has now increased around Fleet Street.
Marianna points out that "people have told us that when you beautify a street, locals are more likely to want to protect
and preserve it... hence keeping unlawful possibilities
Paint Jamaica was financially possible with the support of a crowdfunding initiative and non-monetary donations from
local companies such as Diamond Paints, National Baking, True Rapid Value, Sun Island Company and Kremi.
Paint Jamaica has plans to carry the movement across Jamaica- and potentially in other countries too. The focus will
remain to inspire people to embellish and transform their visual surroundings through democratic art... in unexpected
ways and unexpected places.
Follow the project at www.facebook.com/paintjamaica
For further information, please contact email@example.com
Images attached. Photos by Jik-Reuben, Randy Richards and Marianna Farag.
Plant Jamaica is an organic offshoot of Paint Jamaica. It is both a self sustainable and viable grass-roots initiative . Plant
Jamaica aims to create sustainable farms in small inner city communities with the aid of farmers, artists and education.
The project kicked off at "LIFE YARD” who are situated right across 41 Fleet St where the Paint Jamaica project came
alive. Behind the zinc fence walls of their neighbourhood, the Life Yard collective have transformed an empty strip of
land into a small farm. “Eat what you grow, grow what you eat” is their philosophy and helps them to become selfsustainable, especially when times are rough. A Life Yard member explains: “This space provides relief for the
community. For example, when I’m hungry, I can just pick off ackee from the tree.” An opportunity was identified to
further build on Life Yard’s initiative and help grow their farm, build a sustainable green space and restaurant in
Kingston’s inner city. PLANT JAMAICA will provide resources to enhance the Life Yard farm and benefit the community
on many levels by encouraging locals to eat what they grow, and grow what they eat.
Follow the project at www.facebook.com/plantjamaica
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
PAINT JAMAICA – THE TEAM
"There is a limited understanding around the creative potential in Jamaica"
Meet Matthew McCarthy (the i.deal.ist) - "National Sign Painter" - our talented illustrator and street artist.
"People will keep thinking it cannot be done...until they see it happening in front of them"
Meet Taj Francis- the "Visual Mix Master"- our talented illustrator and street artist.
"I'm interested in any initiative to give back and help innercity communities that are often stigmatized as bad or
dangerous. As an artist, I feel like art would be the best way for me to contribute, and Paint Jamaica is the right platform
to do that."
Meet Kokab Zohoori-Dossa - "Miss Mark Maker- our talented illustrator and street artist.
"When people see projects happening in front of them, it gives them more strength. We want to inspire people to
pursue their passion"
Meet Djet Layne- the "Paint Dragon"- our talented illustrator and street artist.
"Its time for the youths to rise with positive vibration and to see a world full of colour, love and unity. I'm on board with
Paint Jamaica to document and see this become a Regality(Reality)."
Meet Jik-Reuben - our "Visual Ninja"- videographer and photographer, and the man behind the REAL TALK video series!
"If we want real change we have to first grasp the wheel. If we want action we have to get out and do what we can no
matter how small we may perceive it to be. Every effort counts. Every bit adds up. Every mickle mek a muckle"
Meet Randy Richards- the "Visual Thinker"- and one of our incredible photographers at Paint Jamaica
"With this project being interactive, we can start a real dialogue with various communities...in Jamaica and around the
Meet Gladstone Taylor - "Literary Shaman" - talented writer who will be sharing his words and thoughts throughout the
Paint Jamaica project.
"The passion one has for his tasks is what creates true progress, it's not solely the knowledge. People don't just need
education, as there's a stronger need for inspiration."
Christopher Lee Murray- "Th'Ink-King"- Paint Jamaica team member and a brainchild of the universe... his thoughts
"As cliche as this may sound- I believe that each and everyone of us has the ability to make a change... and that there are
more good people -then bad- in this world. All it takes is an open heart. I have fallen in love with Jamaica and the
creative talent & energy that exists here!"
Meet Marianna Farag - the "Restless Mind"- founder of Paint Jamaica, photographer and Jamaica lover.