With over 150 album covers to his credit, the late Wilfred Limonious stands as one of the key architects of early dancehall reggae’s aesthetic. A few years ago, I began collecting his work, which eventually led to me researching the artist himself.
When I started looking into the man, it surprised me to learn that very little information about Mr. Limonious was available. Some mentions of his 1999 passing and a handful of blog posts paying tribute to his cover art could be found on the Internet, but nothing much more than that.
In late 2008, I contacted Dan (the dude behind the Wilfred Limonious Tribute mySpace page) who suggested I could be involved somehow in putting together a proper book of the artist’s work and I jumped at the opportunity. Around the same time, a record-obsessed best bud of mine told me about someone that was working directly with Limonious in the 90’s on a project, but that it never saw the light of day.
I spread my net wide, sending out emails and making phone calls to anyone and everyone imaginable and after months of research from my basement apartment
Despite overwhelming support from certain contacts, I put the project on ice (for a number of reasons that hardly seem important at all now), until one day a book unexpectedly landed on my desk at work.
Published in 2001 “Fifty Years, Fifty Artists: 1950-2000 The School of Visual Arts” was compiled to highlight many of the successful graduates to come out of the Jamaica School of Art (now called Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts). Although Limonious was not one of Edna’s chosen fifty, I flipped to the back of the book where the school’s entire alumni was listed and after combing through the pages, I found it:
Class of 1973, Wilfred Limonious.
Until then, I had only seen his name scribbled on the backs of album covers, but now here it was, neatly printed in Times New Roman at the back of a book.
It wasn’t until seeing this book that I knew this project needed continuing. This time around, I decided that the only way to properly see the world that Limonious’ created – his characters, his colours, his peculiar brand of humour – was to go to the source. With only a small handful of contacts on the island and having never been there before, I bought a ticket to Kingston.
I hope to use this blog to document and share some stories and some of the things I found in JA. I will be updating on a semi-regular basis.
Hope you njoi.