Karl 'Jerry' Craig

Karl Jerry Craig received his earliest training as an artist in the UK attending the St Martin’s School of Art. He stayed there after graduating exhibiting regularly while working as a Senior Lecturer for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) in London. In 1972, he was invited to head the Jamaica School of Art and would go on to become the first Deputy Dean when that institution was fused with the Schools of Dance, Drama and Music becoming the Cultural Training Centre (CTC).

As both artist and educator Karl Craig made significant contributions to the development of the arts during the 1970s. As head of the art school he spearheaded the art school’s move from its old North Street location to its new campus at Arthur Wint Drive, and introduced a teacher-training course specifically designed for art school graduates. In addition, during the 1980’s he exhibited regularly locally, and in Jamaican exhibitions abroad.

Craig’s work is distinctly contemporary, unlike his peers such as Valerie Bloomfield or Alexander Cooper, he quickly relinquished realism in favour of abstraction and design. His British training and work in the field of graphic design and advertising brought a fresh contemporary feel to his surfaces and even though he embraced Jamaican themes, his surfaces reflected none of Jamaica’s social angst, rather they shimmered with a more positive light. At times, Craig’s work can appear almost decorative, especially since he is fond of using heightened colours, iridescent tones and attractive textured patterning. Nevertheless his imagery is rooted in the Jamaican experience, it reflects his delight with the environment: his romancing of the sun, sand and sea. As a result, his work is highly attractive and collectible and can be found in many important national collections, and he has also created numerous commissions and public murals.

In the 1990s Craig moved to the University of the West Indies to supervise the teaching of art and crafts to its Department of Education students, thus creating an important line of progression for teachers of art from teacher training colleges, art school and the university. Craig’s contribution to Jamaican art has been invaluable and although he currently lives and works in Florida he continues to paint, depicting his passion for the Caribbean.PA-S