This new limited edition print by artist Marianne Keating stems from a period of her most recent research on-location in Jamaica, in May 2023. The image was taken whilst in the process of filming An Ciunas / The Silence, a major new film at the centre of Keating’s current exhibition at The Showroom, London.
Offering a prospect view across the dense vegetation and steep-sided hills of Cockpit Country, the largest remaining yet endangered natural forest in Jamaica, the print poses a question that runs through the core of Keating’s ongoing research, HOW FREE IS INDEPENDENCE?
At The Showroom, Keating’s immersive, three-channel film installation brings together complex narratives addressing overlooked aspects of Irish migration during Ireland's colonial rule by Britain, and their enduring legacies in the present.
Building upon the breadth of Keating’s research over the past decade, this new film traces multiple trajectories of migration from Ireland before and after the Great Famine of 1845-52. The work takes as a starting point the hidden histories of the recruitment of Irish indentured labourers to work on plantations as a new labour force in post-abolition Jamaica. Whilst examining the resulting impact of the Irish diaspora in contemporary Jamaican politics, the film focuses in parallel on Irish migration to Britain due to successive eras of economic crisis; concentrating on the generations 'lost' since Irish Independence, and continuing to the recent exodus in the 2010s. Keating re-examines and documents these histories through Irish and Jamaican anti-colonial ties.
"Jamaica’s Cockpit Country is under threat from bauxite mining, which would remove forest cover, block and pollute waterways, displace residents, threaten agricultural livelihoods, compromise air quality and threaten the health and well-being of thousands of Jamaican citizens.
Cockpit Country is the largest remaining natural forest in Jamaica. The fresh water it stores and releases via almost 40 rivers, streams, springs, upwellings, glades and ponds supplies about 40% of Western Jamaica’s water needs. Jamaica is facing major negative impacts from Global Climate Change – unpredictable rainfall, and extreme weather events including drought.
Ensuring the preservation of Cockpit Country promotes climate resilience, is an investment in the future, and literally means fresh water in the bank."
– Save Cockpit Country