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Bertha and the Jancro, 2023, 20 x 20 inches, Oil on linen, US$16,000

Bertha And The Jancro (2023), depicts Rochester’s wedding to Bertha. Rochester is the Jancro (John Crow), the derogatory term given to British colonisers by the enslaved in Jamaica. The Jancro, with his vulture skull and in his red military outfit, is seen as both a scavenger and a portender of death. Bertha’s red dress, mirroring the red in Rochester’s attire, has multiple meanings: red for the early bloom of romance during their courtship; for being dressed in red by relatives who only allowed her out at twilight for minutes at a time so that any hints of her madness and her mixed racial background could pass unnoticed; red for the many fires she set ablaze in Rochester’s mansion; red for the blood spilled by her suicide jumping to her death from the roof; and red as symbolic of her mental anguish, her suffering, her rage. Behind the couple is a local Guango tree burdened with “Spanish Moss”, a wild Bromeliad, haunting the setting.


- Roberta Stoddart

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