Artist Branded As The Champion: Jordanna Kelly’s Wins Central Bank’s 33rd Annual Art Competition

On Friday, October 14th, The Central Bank of The Bahamas announced Jordanna Kelly as the winner of its 33rd Annual Art Competition Open Category. Her winning piece ‘Preserved,’ a sculptural installation of authentic canned food items contained in plastic time capsules was created to reference the social benefits of heritage conservation.

Inspired by a conversation with her father on the recent closure of Albury Paul W. & Sons Ltd., a Bahamian owned company that had been in business for over sixty years, Kelly felt it was her duty to investigate the story behind its demise. “My great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father all cooked with the Champion Brand and now I will not be able to continue this tradition. This installation is reminiscent of a time passed for many Bahamians as well as a celebration and commemoration of this company’s contribution to our society, being a staple in the lives of many Bahamian families.”

Not often do you find emerging artists so engrossed and driven by creative investigation. Kelly’s interest in research grew as she learned more of the Albury’s history. She visited its canning factory in Centreville and interviewed the granddaughter of the late Paul Albury, Ms. Caroline Albury who shared the company’s journey and history of its ‘Champion Brand.’ She became interested in hard facts and spent a lot of time collecting information at The Department of Archives.

“I was amazed at the historical significance and contribution the Albury’s made in our region as exporters of food products. For example, in 1959 Paul Albury purchased the canning company from J.S Johnson & Co. a major manufacturer of canned pineapple at the time. I was shocked when I found out that such a small company like Albury’s later exported canned food to Britain during World War II.” In search of the last Champion products to grace food store shelves, she drove throughout New Providence and finally struck luck at Parkgate Supermarket on Kemp Road. “I was pleased to find all ten items in one place, they still even had their prices tags which added to the authenticity of the work.” After learning so much from the project, Kelly had convinced herself that after all her work even if her submission was not recognised by the judges that she was proud of her efforts.

Highlighting the contribution of this local business was seen as an admirable gesture by the Albury family who were pleased to learn of Kelly’s recent success. As a multi-media artist, Kelly’s studio practice is rooted in experimentation, materiality, and intuition. She enjoys the spontaneity that each piece of art brings as she embraces the formative stage of her creative career, one that allows for the freedom to explore the length and breadth of materials and concepts. Those familiar with Kelly’s work over the past few years have seen her explore ephemeral floral and figurative elements, which often use unexpected and industrial material.

In 2014, Kelly’s first attempt at installation art, “Full Bloom” offered a glimpse into her research and conservation interests; the work featured dried and sealed bougainvillea petals in plexiglass. Kelly is no stranger to The Central Bank of The Bahamas Art community having won the 2010 High School Category Competition. Two years ago she participated in COB’s graduate show ‘Bloom’ which was hosted by Central Bank and has competed in the bank’s Open Category Competition since 2014. “Moya Strachan, an art teacher at Queen’s College, encouraged me to enter the competition in 2010.

That year I was successful in securing first place which gave me the confidence to continue in the arts. In a crucial year for The Bahamas regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment, Kelly’s victory broke through the barrier of a competition that has been dominated by male artists for eight years. “I have never really considered the gender of past winners until several local artists reached out to congratulate me with many female artists maintaining that I had won this prize for all Bahamian women.”

Kelly is currently enrolled in BTVI’s Carpentry Programme where she is completing her certification..She is spending considerable time in her studio working on her project for The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ National Exhibition (NE8) due to open in December. Kelly is also preparing for her first solo exhibition scheduled for next March, which is a part of the winning prize for The Central Bank’s Art Competition.