Press release. Art, music and education collide when the Reggae Poster Contest links with Alpha Boys School in Kingston, JA


l-r. michael thomoson, maria papaefstathiou + alon braier at the exhibition opening (photo courtesy; michael thompson’s special contribution; michael thompson leading a visual arts workshop at alpha boys school

(Kingston, JA): Music, the visual arts and education came together twice in a very unique way this past week with the arrival of the World A Reggae: The 100 Best Entries from the First International Reggae Poster Contest exhibition in Jamaica at the National Gallery. On Sunday, September 30 the Alpha Boys Band provided live music at the exhibition opening and the following day the contest founders and contest winner visited Alpha Boys School for a special workshop with Alpha students. The inclusion of Alpha is the result of the Reggae Poster Contest’s goal to make the school both a theme and a beneficiary. Following the exhibition, in November, the posters will be auctioned with 100% of the proceeds going to Alpha.

On Sunday the exhibition was opened by Gallery Director Veerle Poupeye, academic and writer Dr. Carolyn Cooper, contest founders Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou as well as contest winner Alon Briaer, who flew in from Israel for the event, and Jamaica’s own Taj Francis, the 5th place winner. The Alpha Boys Band led by bandmaster Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin provided the soundtrack throughout the afternoon. As the inspiration for a significant proportion of the visual art featured in the 6-week exhibition the school is also well represented on the walls of the exhibition. Of the 100+ posters included in the exhibition, at least 20 mention Alpha Boys School by name and many incorporate in the artistic work a representation of Alpha’s mission to help disadvantaged youth through music and education. A special poster contribution by contest founder Michael Thompson, for example, presents Alpha Boys School in the contemporary spirit of urban street art with fine lines setting off the bold silhouette of a boy standing in front of his chair blowing a trombone (Don Drummond’s instrument of choice). And from Uruguay, Gonzalo Gomez Gaggero’s poster of a drumstick placed vertically below a pencil sharpener captures in stark visual terms the spirit of Alpha’s ongoing and everyday mission to use music and education to help develop well rounded young men.

“Reggae music is an international phenomenon and the Reggae Poster Contest Exhibition captures the legacy of not just Alpha but also individuals and technology visually,” says Alpha Boys School administrator, Sister Susan Frazer. “Its a fascinating exhibition that communicates the culture in a very innovative way.”

The day after the opening, Michael Thompson, Maria Papaefstathiou and Alon Braier visited Alpha Boys School for a special workshop in which Alpha students were introduced to poster making and a survey of posters submitted from around the world. The boys also saw firsthand the worldwide interest and respect for Alpha Boys School in illustrated form. Alpha students, staff and guests were treated to a slideshow curated by Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou of posters submitted from the Philipines, and from South Africa and from Korea to name just a few. The depth and breadth of the art had everyone in Alpha’s Assembly Hall on the edge of their seat for the next poster many of which included shout outs to Alpha which had everyone calling out “Alpha Boys School” in unison.

“The visit to Alpha Boys school was an amazing experience,” said Michael Thompson. “The boys I felt were delighted to hear about design and how it can benefit the school, I really enjoyed the trip and talk. what an experience of a lifetime”.


l-r. reggae poster contest winner alon braier sits in with the alpha boys band; sister susan frazer

Alpha Boys School staff are looking forward to sharing the experience of the exhibition with students and staff. Alpha is a residential vocational home for at-risk boys in Kingston, Jamaica, serving in this capacity since the 19th century. Its music program is internationally known for graduating respected vocalists Yellowman and Leroy Smart as well as instrumentalists Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace and Don Drummond to name just a few. The Alpha Boys Band is currently directed by Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin and and continues to be a source for Jamaican touring, session and hotel bands. In addition to music, Alpha Boys School offers its students a number of vocations including agriculture, woodworking and tailoring.


l-r. contributions to the exhibition from Maria Cordona, Luba Lukova and Gonzalo Gomez Gaggero