The story of the Gallery of West Indian Art is really a love story. It started when Liz deLisser, a young and beautiful Englishwoman, fell in love with her husband-to-be, a handsome Jamaican who at the time was pursuing his medical studies in Ireland. She married him and together they moved to Jamaica, where she fell deeply and lastingly in love with the island and its people. Whilst still pursuing her highly successful career as a fashion designer (it was Liz who designed and made the fabled bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the first James Bond movie, "Dr. No"), she discovered her love for Haitian Art, especially the early Haitian Intuitives. At first, she bought Haitian paintings purely for her own pleasure; then, she began to decorate her clothing boutique's walls with her purchases. Pretty soon, she sold more artwork than dresses - and that is how the Gallery of West Indian Art was founded, sometime in the late 1960's.
Liz very quickly added many up-and-coming Jamaican painters to her roster of artists, and tirelessly promoted and encouraged them in their artistic endeavors. Albert Artwell, for instance, one of the founders of the Jamaican Intuitive Movement, got his start when, as a complete unknown, he wandered into the Gallery of West Indian Art and sold Liz his very first painting. Today, Albert's works grace not only the walls of our gallery, but also those of Jamaica's National Gallery. The photo on the left shows Albert Artwell (in his younger years), with Miss Gloria (who still works with us today as our sales lady), Mr. Higgins (whom we miss very much, since his well-deserved retirement a few years ago) and Liz deLisser, at our old gallery in downtown Montego Bay.
Over the years, Liz steadily expanded her offerings: working in collaboration with our hugely talented Jamaican carvers, she developed a line of hand-carved, hand-painted wooden animals...and these, with their bright colors and distinctive white spots, quickly became our trademark. Believe us - there is scarcely a home or holiday villa in all of Jamaica, which is not decorated with our "spotties". But our range of hand-carved wooden items is quite extensive & by no means limited to animals: nowadays, we also make full-sized and baby furniture; and a myriad of household trinkets, such as salad bowls, tissue boxes, candle stands, mirrors, storage trunks and much more. We may offer these items for direct purchase through our website at a later time. Until then, if you are interested in purchasing some of our carvings, do let us know. We will be happy to email you photos of available items.
Liz, sadly, passed away - far too early - in 2006; but we, Nicky and Stefan, continue to run the gallery until today. After operating a second store at Round Hill Hotel & Villas for some 15 years and subsequently opening & running another second store at The Tryall Club for a further 5 years, we now sell our goods from only one main gallery, located on the Western outskirts of Montego Bay. We still travel to Haiti and Cuba regularly, in search of new and exciting artists with whose works we hope to expand our collection, and also keep out a sharp eye for promising young Jamaican painters. We do our best to keep our prices reasonable & to make our art work affordable, because we believe that everybody - regardless of how deep or shallow their pockets might be - should be able to own the beautiful creations of our Caribbean artists. Much as we have grown accustomed to calling the Gallery of West Indian Art our gallery, the truth is that our gallery will always remain Liz's gallery...simply because it is too deeply and abidingly imbued with her unique spirit to ever be anything else.
Many kind things have been written and said about us over the years. Here, as testimonials, are a few examples.
From: Caribbean Journal
14 Caribbean Art Galleries You Should Visit in 2014
Last week, we highlighted some of the ways to explore the Caribbean beyond the beach: namely, by visiting museums. But there are also scores of small, excellent art galleries across the region, from small boutiques to larger exhibition spaces. This isn’t a list of all the best art galleries in the region; rather, it’s a sampling of the diversity of spaces and works you can enjoy when you’re in the Caribbean. We thought we’d bring you some suggestions for the rest of 2014, from the Bahamas to the north to Trinidad to the south.
Gallery of West Indian Art — Jamaica
This gallery and store in Montego Bay has been around for more than four decades, and has a particularly strong collection of art by Cuban and Haitian painters.
From: Caribbean Life Magazine
From: Caribbean Travel & Life
You can also find us in most of the best known travel guides. Here are just a few links.