Kudos goes to Hi Qo Gallery in Kingston who hosted the art auction A Selection of Jamaican Works last weekend. Jamaica's art market has been in the doldrums for the past few years, reeling from the depressed economic climate, failed ponsi schemes and a Jamaican dollar valued now at almost $90 - 1 $US. This sale presented a timely test to see whether the hard times are easing. Organiser Susanne Fredericks selected more than 100 works from two death estates and other works that had come into the Gallery recently. The batch included pieces by significant names such as pioneers Manley, Kapo and Huie as well as younger talent like Khary Darby, and Oliver Myrie.
The event could have benefitted from a more experienced auctioneer who might have offered a more nuanced understanding of works and roused buyers to bid more competetively. Even so, more that 60% were sold successfully with the highest bid for the evening going to Carl Abrahams' Jesus's Miracles (c. 1980) at JA $715,000. Notably, other works around the million dollar mark, such as Huie's Port Henderson (c. 1975) and Edna Manley's Goat (c.1978) were withdrawn suggesting that buyers are still keeping their purse strings tight. Works offered at under JA $100,000 did best while the highpoint of the evening was the lively battle over Eric Cadien's Sleeping Figure (1960), the work shown here estimated at JA $90 – 100,000 that eventually sold for JA $170,000. Auction results suggest that the market is finally moving after a long period of decline but it still has a long way to go before it regains the momentum and values reached before the recession.