Murals part of ‘key’ to unlock downtown’s potential
"Rays of light and beauty" is how Michael Odfield, a former musician, describes the mounting of murals in sections of downtown Kingston that tell stories of the country's musical past.
Odfield says he is thankful to all who have been contributing to the beautification project. He said Water Lane and Mark Lane especially have been attracting many tourists and music video producers.
"Every day we see people coming here to take pictures and it shines a very positive light on downtown. Downtown needs to be revived because it is a capital city and it should look like one," he said. The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) aims to transform downtown Kingston into a cultural district, dubbed a Kulture Key, which will highlight the country's iconic musical heritage while creating a space for recreation.
Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams said space would be provided to showcase Jamaican food, craft, artwork, music and dance, attracting locals and visitors and providing income-earning opportunities. Already, murals of reggae icons including Millie Small, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs and Bunny Wailer have been painted along Mark Lane.
"Bim and Bam would be persons I would love to see (and) persons who were at the Ward Theatre, even some of the music teachers from yesteryears because there are a lot of persons who go to these schools and don't know about the foundation teachers," he said.
Omar Blake, who has been selling fruits at the intersection of Temple Lane and Harbour Street for the past 18 years, said the artwork has been beneficial to his small business.
"Mi wouldn't mind if them could paint up all of the lanes come down because it give the place a nice facelift. It is good to see people from everywhere coming here. One of the good thing is that people appreciate it and we nuh see anyone a try nasty dem up," Blake said.
Kingston resident Mishka Williams says she beams with pride whenever she sees strangers stopping to pose for pictures beside the murals.
"One time yuh nah see vehicle stop dem side ya or tourist a walk. People would more go Craft Market side because a just bare old building did deh here so. Now the place colourful until it a dazzle mi eye dem," she said with a laugh. Monique Woodstock loves the colours.
"When mi just hear 'bout di murals dem mi did think a waste of taxpayer money mi nah lie. But when mi see how colourful and pretty it is, mi eat mi words. Mi just hope di nasty man dem nuh p**s on dem," she said.