Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons

Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons

Written by Editor

Topics: Art & Photography, Heritage & Culture

One hundred years after the authorities of the day put an end to the life of Jamaican National Hero Paul Bogle for his role in the Morant Bay insurrection, the late sculptor Edna Manley shaped her artistic vision of the man and his struggle. However, the statue created in his memory and honour, which has stood like a righteous sentinel in front of the Morant Bay Courthouse in St. Thomas for decades, has been at the centre of controversy since it was first unveiled in 1965.

Removed from the Courthouse and taken to Kingston in 2009 for repairs after it was severely damaged, the return of the ciment fondu statue to is being met with protest by a group within the parish. This group of Morant Bay stakeholders have revived the argument that the stature is not a favourable representation of Bogle, and are calling for a new statue based on what is presumed to be Bogle’s “true likeness” – a photo that surfaced a few years before the sculpture was done.


The matter remains the subject of passionate debate,as advocates of the symbolist representation defend the sculpture on artistic merit, while others take issue with the statue’s features and attributes in demanding a replacement. The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) has seized the opportunity provided by the presence of the recently restored statue in Kingston to mount an exhibition on the subject, which opened on September 23 and will continue until November 13. The exhibition, entitled Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons, “is to present the latest information on the subject and to encourage productive discussion.” Further information on the NGJ’s exhibition on Bogle and a poll to gauge public opinion on the issue can be found here.

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