When I first moved to Kingston in 2014 I remember being taken to the Paint Jamaica project . I was absolutely stunned by the amazing street art. I’d been involved with a couple of initiatives in London in which teens from inner city areas who were at risk of gang involvement were encouraged to get involved in a creative arts project. There’s something special about the relationship between art and communities that really unites and can force change like nothing else can. When I ventured to see the street art again at Fleet Street in Kingston, it was amazing – the community were involved and there was a real buzz of something groundbreaking going on.
Paint Jamaica was founded by French woman Marianna Farag. It then became something of a street art collective with local and visiting artists getting involved. Together they transformed these run down spaces and use art as a tool to empower marginalised neighbourhoods. Following consultation with local residents, the artists went on to create murals that reflected life and stories from the community. There’s peace, there’s unity and motivation to inspire positive change through art.
I think it’s fair to say Paint Jamaica has become so much more – it has transformed a community, broken down social barriers and highlighted what a little collective art muscle can do to totally transform a community. Returning to Fleet Street recently, residents stop to chat, a man sweeps the road as children play. There’s a real sense of pride here and normality. It all feels so normal.
This is the future of downtown. There’s hope, harmony, colour, regeneration. You can almost feel the change coming and the change needn’t be left to politicians and the police. It just takes a small community to introduce big change.