Margaret Chen

Educated at the Jamaica School of Art, Margaret Chen left Jamaica after graduating with distinction to pursue post-graduate studies in Canada at York University, Ontario. It was in Canada also that she began her career as a sculptor, exhibiting in a number of Toronto galleries with increasing success. It is significant however that in the 1980s Margaret chose to return to Jamaica for her first solo exhibition at the Upstairs Downstairs Galleries; to establish her studio, and to become a important contributor to group exhibitions locally and Jamaican exhibitions abroad.

Her work, usually large in scale and tending towards installation, is distinguished by her painstaking attention to detail and meticulous finish. These assemblages of natural and man-made materials normally take months and years to come to fruition and as a result her solo exhibitions are rare. Even so, there is continuity as she works from one major work or theme to the next. She says: My work happens as a result of the mysterious interweaving of process and content, the inanimate and animate, matter and spirit. The creative process for me is an on-going and progressive one that builds up layer by layer, work after work.

I cannot sever the past from my present works. Wherever I stand, whatever I do, my history is very much a part of my work, its base lying in the sum total of selected fragments from the past.

More recently she has explained this process in greater detail explaining how one work naturally grows out of another. It is the process that drives her towards new boundaries and revelations. She says:

It is in hindsight that I perceive my work as an ongoing process, an attempt to plumb the depths of that ‘primordial slime from which life first emerged’ and to reveal to oneself again and again, through work after work, the site of one’s own origin.”

© PA-S