We recently visited the Olympia Art Centre in Kingston built by the late A.D. Scott, art collector and businessman. The concept of the centre was visionary, especially for a newly independent Jamaica that was still developing a visual arts tradition. The centre was envisaged as a place where artists and their audience could live, supported and surrounded by art. The main building comprises three floors under a magnificent fibreglass roof that allows light to flood the artwork inside. On the upper floor the mural 'Our heritage' painted by one of the centre's key founders Barrington Watson visualises Jamaica's history from its Taino Amerindian beginnings to Independence in 1962. Around the balconies of the lower floors contemporary paintings and sculptures are placed between the doorways that lead to the rented residential apartments.
Some fifty years after its establishment the centre bears all the optimism of its 1960s origins. The generosity of its space and the surrounding landscape remind us of a time when this was prime real estate on the edge of Kingston's thriving city. Although the city's hustle and bustle now surrounds it, the centre is still something of a haven for those interested in art from that buoyant era. Watch the video