Remembering Vera

Submitted by Jeeraik009 on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:03

This week members of the National Gallery community gathered to welcome a painting into its collection by the late Canadian artist Vera Cumming (1921-1996). The painting was presented to the Gallery by her nephew Lawrence Cumming who had overseen preparations for its restoration and journey from Canada. The new acquisition called Jamaican Girl (c.1951) was created by the Vera Cumming whilst she was living in Jamaica and volunteer teaching at the Institute of Jamaica. It depicts a young buxom woman positioned somewhat awkwardly against the backdrop of a revival meeting: a vignette that brings to mind the street scenes of David Pottinger. As chief curator Dr. David Boxer pointed out in his introductory remarks, the painting is significant not just for what it tells us about the artist's spiritual concerns but also for how it demonstrates her stylistic influence on a younger group of artists such as Henry Daley and Pottinger whom Vera likely taught in the early days of the nationalist movement. Working alongside Edna Manley, Vera was one of a handful of expatriates such as Koren der Harootian and Vera Alabaster who used their skills to instruct and encourage young Jamaican artists to paint local subjects. Jamaican Girl is the donation of Toronto based family of Diana Haddad and the late John Haddad, keen to see Vera Cumming remembered with a work of such cultural importance.