Thursday, 23 October 2014

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: 2014's Musgrave medallists embrace the award's spirit of excellence

CLASS OF 2014: The awardees, joined by Custos Marigold Harding, assemble onstage for a group photos.

"Humbling and heartening." That's how gold medallist Petrona Morrison sums up the feelings of her fellow 2014 Musgrave Medal awardees, who were the toast of a well-attended ceremony at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Called on to deliver the reply on behalf of the awardees, Morrison's bit also paid homage to the forebears and the Institute's pioneering spirit. "We are truly honoured to be part of the rich legacy that has preceded us," noted the groundbreaking and acclaimed fine artist and former director of the Edna Manley College's Visual Art School (who, for the record, couldn't want for a finer retirement present), "and it gives us the encouragement to continue the work that we do in our respective fields."

As in years past, the hour-and-a-half ceremony came off as yet another fantastic occasion, in keeping with decades of tradition, for distinguished Jamaicans, particularly in the fields of literature, science and art to be recognized for their stellar achievements, indelible contributions to national (and, in some instances, regional) development, and their lifelong commitment to excellence.

In addition to Morrison, gold medals for distinguished eminence went to Professor Celia Christie-Samuels for her work in the medical field (UWI's first female professor of paediatrics) and novelist and playwright Anthony C. Winkler (well-known for his impressive body of work) for literature.

Penthouse Records' Donovan Germain, the pioneering reggae producer, took home a silver for his vast contribution to Jamaican popular music; Dr. Karl Aiken for his committed and boundary-pushing research in the life sciences; and artist Jasmine Thomas-Girvan for her laudable achievements in jewelry and sculpting. Scientist Dr. Tannecia Stephenson, artist Philip Thomas, and musician-producer Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke were this year's bronze medal recipients.

As we all know, landing a Musgrave medal is no small feat. The oldest award of its kind in the Western hemisphere, the uberprestigious accolade has been in existence since 1889, and its enduring relevance (not to mention its hallmarks of legacy and tradition) isn't lost on the Institute's latest Executive Director Anne-Marie Bonner. "One of our missions here at the IOJ is to continue honoring this rich tradition by giving out the award every year instead of every two years," Bonner tells TALLAWAH. "The Musgrave Awards have been around for over 100 years, and I think it continues to represent a great opportunity for us to recognize our outstanding Jamaicans who have excelled with distinction in their respective areas of work."

This year's cohort of honorees didn't exactly lack for strong support from others in high office. Among those toasting the success of the class of 2014 were Custos of St. Andrew Marigold Harding and Oswald Harding, Youth and culture minister Lisa Hanna, and Chairman of the IOJ Council Burchell Whiteman. Delightfully tuneful and vocally sharp, the Hugh Douse-led Nexus ensemble thrilled the gathering in song. 

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