Lennox Coke has a deep and abiding commitment to the portrayal of Jamaican culture and lifestyle through his art. His artistic offerings are snippets of Jamaican life which he provides to the viewer as a way to experience the real Jamaica and its people.
Lennox hails from the parish of St. Elizabeth in Jamaica. He attended the Thornton Primary School and Maggotty High School before relocating to Kingston to do further studies at St. George’s Extension. He had an initial dream of becoming an engineer but this was not to be as his creative energies sent him in another direction.
Lennox maintains that art found him. As a youngster he was always creating, items such as toys and comic books. In school his peers looked to his creativity to produce “the next super-hero, cartoon, comic, class project …” He was even referred to by the name “Artist” by family and friends. After completing his secondary schooling Lennox worked in a furniture factory where he became a capable cabinet maker and learnt to restore antique furniture. It was here that the owner saw his artistic potential and encouraged him to pursue studies in art after seeing some of his graffiti. It was only then that Lennox realized that his passion for creating could actually be a viable career choice. He shifted gears and headed to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as the first step to fulfill the new “Dream”. He graduated in 1994 and set about launching his career as an artist painter.
Lennox has participated in several exhibitions in Jamaica since leaving art school. His first solo exhibition was at Gallery M.E.K. at Devon House in 1997. He has also participated in overseas shows in Trinidad and Tobago, Washington D.C. and New York City among others. He is also a frequent participant in several annual shows: Caribbean Gift and Craft; Liguanea Lodge Auction; Mandeville Art Fair and Liguanea Art Festival. He has also had the distinction of providing the cover image for the book ‘The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women’s Unruly Political Bodies’ by Andrea Elizabeth Shaw, Assistant Professor of English at Nova Southeastern University, published in 2006.
Over the years Lennox has garnered many awards from entries to the national festival of arts competition organized by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission each year. His paintings can be found in the Bank of Jamaica Collection as well as those of prominent local families and as far away as Australia. The support of patrons over the years has motivated this artist to greater heights.
His current medium of choice is acrylic but like many painters before him he is versed in the challenging medium of oil. Lennox’s paintings speak volumes about his dedication to the Jamaican cultural landscape. He brings his rural (country) upbringing squarely to the table of his art. His catalogue of work boast an impressive number of rural landscapes, but it also reflects his knowledge of urban life – inner-city Kingston, uptown and downtown.
Like many Jamaican artists before him Lennox has depicted the traditional Market scenes on numerous occasions. He is “drawn to the marketplace because of its vibrancy, cultural practices and real life drama that unfolds daily, with its tropical fruits and vegetables and the warmth of the people that trade there.” Coke has intimate knowledge of agricultural life and practices, having grown up on his parent’s farm in Jamaica’s ‘bread basket’ parish. He has a deep respect and love for the people who form the backbone of the market community and on whose shoulders rests the burdens of the district. He says, that “the market environment is an awesome source of inspiration”. It is not only an inspiring source for his art but also a way to live his life. He has taken on the mantle of leadership in his family and wants his work to be a catalyst for future growth for his own family as well as his fellow man.
Lennox Coke’s art involves mostly realistic depictions of Jamaican life but occasionally he delves deeper to present pieces that are more surrealistic, such as ‘The Colour of Music’, ‘Ancestral Memory’ and ‘Fatal Comfort’.
His primary art is painting but he has also done work in pottery and poetry and hopes to do more. In fact, for him the three P’s are the future where he hopes to present a more balanced mixing of the three. Lennox Coke says that “life is my greatest teacher so all I need to be successful is to be a good student”.