Tyshan Wright: Myal

February 3 – 28, 2021
The Craig Gallery

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Rackla, 2017. Wood, goat skin, kente cloth, traditional beads.

Myal is a collection of ceremonial objects and instruments used spiritually among the Jamaican Maroons. For centuries, these instruments have been used to guide Maroons towards myal – a sacred moment of communion with the ancestors.

“When Jamaican Maroons were exiled to Nova Scotia in 1796, they were denied their ceremonial instruments. So I want to use these sacred objects to reconnect Maroon traditions to the Canadian narrative. Using wood, natural forest products, and fabric from three countries, I share work that represents the water crossings that are part of the Maroon story – from our origins in Ghana to the Trelawny Town Maroons’ exile from Jamaica to Nova Scotia.” – Tyshan Wright

Jamaican Maroons are descendants of Africans who resisted slavery and formed their own independent, self-sustaining communities in the mountainous regions of Jamaica during the 1600s. They entered into a historic peace treaty with the governing British in 1738, but in 1796 about 550 Maroons were exiled from Jamaica to Halifax after the Second Maroon War. The exiled Maroons lived in communities at Preston and Boydville, sold goods at the Halifax market, and worked as labourers at Citadel Hill. But they did not favour Halifax’s cold, and petitioned to move to a warmer climate. Almost all of them left Halifax for Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1800. Even still, many of their descendants can be found in Nova Scotia today.

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Cimarron, 2017. A traditional ‘abeng’, the Maroons’ most sacred symbol. Image courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Instruments like the ‘abeng’, ‘gumbe’, and ‘rackla’ are among the Maroons’ most sacred objects, used historically and even today in celebration and ceremony. As a traditional maker interested in the intersections between traditional and contemporary craft, Tyshan Wright works with Jamaican and Canadian wood and natural forest products to create mixed media representations of Maroon sacred objects. Myal features works created in Canada between 2017 and 2021.

Tyshan Wright hails from the historic Maroon Town of Accompong in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Since moving to Canada a few years ago, his work has been commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario, acquired by the Nova Scotia Art Bank, and presented in exhibitions and artist talks at galleries and museums. tyshanwright.com

Myal opens February 3rd at The Craig Gallery | Alderney Landing | 2 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia | B3Y 4W1 | (902) 461-4698 | lee@alderneylanding.com | alderneylanding.com/gallery-exhibits

We acknowledge the support of Arts Nova Scotia.

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