New Sculpture For Downtown Kingston: Climate Change Art Park

Kingston Creative and KSAMC celebrate opening of ‘Chain of Love’ by CamilleChedda as part of ‘A Feral Commons’ global co-commission project with 3 cities, Kingston, Dubai and Johannesburg.

Chain of Love 16 As the music played, the sounds of children’s laughter rang out across the little park located at South Camp Road and Tower Street. Now renamed Manning’s Community Park, a once overgrown and neglected dumping ground has become a gathering place for the community once again, enhanced with murals and a world class sculpture by artist Camille Chedda which focuses on climate change. Joseph Manning was a community elder who had devoted his life to caring for the park at the corner of Tower Street and South Camp Road. He was an integral part of the 18 month project but sadly passed away in April 2024.

On May 23, Labour Day, Camille Chedda’s ‘Chain of Love’ opened with Kingston Creative in Parade Gardens in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Last March, Muhannad Shono’s ‘A Forgotten Place’ opened in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai and Io Makandal’s ‘Ophidian’s Promise’ opened in Victoria Yards, Johannesburg on May 15. This completed the trilogy of projects in the Global Co-Commission project. A wide range of local partners came together to make the park transformation a reality, including Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), Canadian High Commission, Digicel Foundation, iPrint Digital, Hope Botanical Gardens and the Forestry Department.

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Camille Chedda and Joseph Manning

When Kingston Creative was approached by the Global Cultural Districts network in 2022 to take part in the Global Co-Commission project, developed by Alserkal Advisory, it was an exciting opportunity to position Kingston as a global cultural city, which was immediately supported by the KSAMC”, stated Andrea Dempster Chung, Cofounder and Executive Director of Kingston Creative.

We put together an excellent team led by Susanne Fredricks of Suzy Wong Presents, Dennis Fyffe from Denni Visuals and Larren Peart from Blue Dot to support the management, documentation and local research on the impact of public art in communities”.

Entitled ‘A Feral Commons’, the project is a collaborative initiative which Alserkal Advisory (Dubai, UAE) has spearheaded in partnership with the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) together with Kingston Creative (Kingston, Jamaica) and Victoria Yards (Johannesburg, South Africa). The park in Parade Gardens is a public community space that in recent years was neglected and overtaken with refuse and wild foliage, to the point of inaccessibility. The colonial and contemporary history of this inner-city area of Kingston carries centuries-long stories of hardship, social neglect, and stagnation, all of which manifested symbolically in the microcosm of the community park.

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The commissioning of a public sculpture by Chedda for A Feral Commons has sparked a full rehabilitation of the park by the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation, and resulted in a multimillion-dollar transformation into a public green space which is now accessible to the communities of South Side, Parade Gardens and Rae Town which surround it. The renaming of the park in honour of a key community member, Joseph Manning, and the forging of this new park identity is an apt metaphor for the renewal of community spirit and their ownership of the space in the future. Chedda’s intent was to create a sculptural, functional and interactive work that would also utilise the overgrowth of the foliage that had emerged out of the years of neglect. Her art aims to bring the community together in positive ways,involving them in the creation of the artwork and shifting thinking about preserving the environment and living within an interspecies ecosystem.

The park is intended to support future generations in utilising it as a place of learning, play, care and rest, by seeing it as an extension of themselves.

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On my first visit to the site, I noticed an overgrowth of the Antigonon Leptopus, Mexican Creeper, known as Rice and Peas Bush in Jamaica. Locally, the seed in the flower has been used as a substitute for peas in a popular meal. I hope to highlight its importance by using it in the artwork as a represented element in the mural and sculptural installation and maintaining it as natural ground cover in the park”, commented the artist, Chedda.

I have often thought about the transformation of land in Jamaica. Very little is said of the actual terror of the plantation existence and of the people who were forced to work there, and no monument can be found honouring the black people who lost their humanity. In considering the Parade Gardens Park, I have transformed the space by using the Rice and Peas plant in order to think about the state of forgetting, hiding, removing, veiling. I don’t want to remove the plant, I want to highlight it. I think about the plant and it reminds me of the community’s stories of people who must be honoured. It exists everywhere but we haven’t noticed it”.

The Global Co-Commission engages three cultural districts across three continents to explore the intersection of art, sustainability, and community engagement. This pioneering effort is designed to prototype and document principles for responsible public art commissioning amidst the escalating climate crisis. Through the Global Co-Commission, Alserkal Advisory pioneers a new accountable framework for future art commissioning that measures the carbon footprint ofthe artwork.

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Collaborating with Urban Art Projects (UAP) via their tools the Artwork Ingredient List and Public Art 360, as well as local firm Blue Dot, the Co- Commission contributes directly to a deeper understanding of place-based responses to the climate crisis through quantitative reporting, assessments of community impact and qualitative appraisals.

These commissions in Jamaica, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates are not isolated but are conceived and produced in dialogue with each other. This collaborative approach underscores the need for cultural districts across the world to share knowledge and resources, creating a collective voice to address pressing global issues. A Feral Commons serves as a catalyst for discussions around sustainability, community engagement, and the evolving role of art and artists in addressing climate imperatives. Going forward, Kingston Creative intends to partner with environmentally focused organisations and the community in developing a programme of social, artistic and educational interventions aimed at raising awareness of climate change and the need to care for the environment.