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Remarks for Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill Minister of Tourism and Entertainment at the launch of Peter Simon’s Reggae Bloodlines Photo Exhibition Thursday, February 28, 2013 at PULS8, Kingston


Members of the media, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen…good evening.

I am delighted to have been invited to the launch of the “Reggae Bloodlines” photo exhibition as well as being asked to declare the exhibition officially open.

As Minister of Tourism and Entertainment I am even more pleased to welcome back to our shores internationally acclaimed photojournalist Peter Simon.   Peter is no stranger to Jamaica, as attested to by his body of work on display today, and on each visit to our warm shores, he compellingly captures and commemorates yet another component of our unique Jamaican culture, for the world to see.   The exhibition “Reggae Bloodlines” will turn the tables a bit as we are given the opportunity to reflect on images of our culture, our people, and our history.

The showing of this collection of his works is a singularly extraordinary treat for all, and I do believe in particular for Jamaicans.  I say this because what our artist has captured, many Jamaicans including myself, see as everyday happenings.  Now we have the unique opportunity to ‘see’ Jamaica through the lens of a non-Jamaican.  And I feel I almost have to apologize to Peter here for calling you non-Jamaican, because I can imagine you very much feel like one of us by now.

“Reggae Bloodlines” straddles both art and reporting, visually communicating and sharing the reggae lifestyle experiences, as it chronicles the music from the 1970s to current times.   You can understand then that from a perspective of tourism and entertainment I find it especially efficient.  With such international acclaim and global recognition for his work, Peter Simon is exactly the kind of ‘ambassador’ Jamaica likes, as the reggae visuals are captivating and rich and the non-verbal story intriguing.  Perpetuating and promoting the allure of our shores.

We are all aware that reggae is more than music it reflects the heart of the rich cultural heritage of Jamaica.   So much so, that the word reggae no longer only represents a musical genre, but now also connotes a lifestyle and a culture.   

Reggae music and culture have developed a global appeal from the great works of legendary artistes such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, Toots & the Maytals to the more current stars Taurus Riley, Chris Martin, Damian ‘Jnr. Gong’ Marley, Romaine Virgo, Shaggy, and the list goes on.  All of whom have continued to build on the global awareness of brand Jamaica.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you view the exhibition you will see evocative images of Jamaican life, past and present.  Reggae remains current because it has always been a celebration of Jamaican life, with its lyrics delivering candid social commentary.   Era after era is captured in the lyrics of reggae music of the times and as I viewed a few of Peter’s images, the same can be said of his work.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and I believe this has been unequivocally demonstrated in Peter Simon’s brilliant and captivating exhibition on reggae.    

I believe this exhibition will be a huge success with both our visitors and locals alike and I am grateful to have made these short observations as I officially launch this exhibition.

Thank you.