Only You Alone Can Free Your Mind: An Insight into the Life of Artist Laura Facey

by Emma Sharp Dalton-Brown

Jamaican born Laura Facey is one of our country’s most inspirational artists. Her work reflects her belief that “Art can promote change and social transformation.” In the hills of the cool and beautiful St. Ann, this celebrated artist has created some of Jamaica’s most recognized pieces, which are unique in part because of their signature larger than life sizes. Educated in England and the USA, Facey’s work has been exhibited around the world, and has earned her the Silver Musgrave Medal and Aaron Matalon Award for ‘Best in Show’.

Laura Facey was commissioned to construct a monument that would grace the ceremonial entrance of Emancipation Park, and would “be a symbol of our freedom to hope, to excel and to be,” according to the park. The eleven-foot high bronze masterpiece, Redemption Song, comprising of two naked black statues, one male and one female, gazing towards the sky and standing in a fountain, was erected in 2003. “Water is an important part of the monument. It is refreshing, purifying and symbolically washes away the pain and suffering of the past,” Facey tells Made in Jamaica Catalogue.

From this came a second major installation, in 2006, entitled ‘Their Spirits Gone Before Them’, a sixteen-foot cottonwood canoe filled with 1,357 Redemption Song miniatures, floating on a sea of sugar cane. It symbolizes the past being brought into the present and future. Standing at over eight feet tall on cedar panels, Solandra is a charcoal and paint drawing of the Chalice Vine Blossom. “The white flower was collected, torn, pressed, dried, and then drawn onto the wooden panels,” says Facey. “I am exploring the seductive powers of nature.”

Laura Facey is passionate about art, and it is clear that her assistants feel the same way, as the physical labour that is required for constructing her creations is no small order. Laura also believes that art is very important to Jamaicans.

Art is the interface between earth and the universe,” she says. “It transcends all languages and brings forward a state of being in the perceiver. This state of being is precious, as, in just a few moments, a person’s ideas can be transformed and go beyond what is normal and natural on earth. Therefore, art creates extraordinary experiences. Thus, the more art that is encouraged in Jamaica means we have more vibrant culture to offer the world and ourselves.”