FINE COMPANY: The artist (left), with Barbara Gloudon at her exhibit opening last Thursday.
Reflecting on her arrival in Jamaica from England some 32 years ago, Annabella Proudlock is quick to cast a keen, delighted eye over the country's art landscape. "It was a time when art was really exploding," says the curator/proprietor of the well-known north-coast-based Harmony Hall gallery. "So I was lucky to meet people like Karl Parboosingh and Eugene Hyde, who were really leading the charge."
Fast-forward to present-day St. Ann, where Proudlock herself is leading the charge. Elegantly tall and trim, she celebrated her 70th last week. These days she calls Ocho Rios home, making the daily trip up Tower Isle (on the St. Mary border) where the arthouse is based.
Though facing the continued onset of health-related challenges, Proudlock remains steadfast in her mission to uphold the gallery's storied legacy. "It's been very rewarding," she says of running the establishment. "Over the years, we've found some wonderful talent, especially in handicraft, which is probably my first love."
Like practically every other local cultural institution, Harmony Hall is facing leaner times. "The last few years have been hard," Proudlock admits, "so we're tightening our belts." And looking ahead? "I am an optimist," she tells me, laughing.
For the time being, however, Proudlock remains committed to Harmony Hall's mission of providing an outlet for creative expression as well as her immense passion for her own unique work as an artist. (For the record, her new solo exhibition at St. Andrew's Bolivar Gallery is a triumph.) When asked to describe life at 70, Proudlock confesses, "I've been having some medical problems but I'm still lucky. I live in the country, which I love, and I love the Caribbean Sea."