ROSE MURRAY: The People in Majesty

Portraits of the People of Majesty Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica

"Three Boys" by Rose Murray

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About Rose Murray

We are sad to report that Rose died on the 23 July 2021 after living with dementia for many years.

Rose Murray lived in Jamaica from 1965 to 1975. While there she learned the art of photography from Jamaican professional Amador Packer, joined the Jamaica Camera Club, and started taking portraits of children, becoming a successful semi-professional portrait photographer.

In 1973 Rose met John Levy, the Director of the St Andrews Settlement, a charity working in Majesty Pen, a poor area of Kingston, and asked if there was anything she could do. John decided that she could help out in the creche with toys and games and soon she was a regular visitor. Rose started to take photographs of the children and gave them to their mothers. It was not long before she was invited to homes and yards to take photos of the older children and indeed anyone else who was there. Rose was always made welcome and the result was an impressive archive of photographs of the people of Majesty and the surrounding areas. Due to her husband Dalton's retirement, Rose had to say farewell to Jamaica in 1975, but after returning to the UK stayed in touch with friends in Kingston for many years.

Newly based in Southampton, Rose worked for many years for the Burnbake Trust, a charity founded by her old friend Jean Davis in Wilton, Salisbury. There she ran Burnbake's Prison Art Project, visiting convicted prisoners, taking them art materials, picking up their artworks and selling them at exhibitions around the UK, and looking after any earnings until their date of release came along. The Prison Art Project is still going.

In 1993 Rose retired to a little cottage on the edge of the small village of Mosset in the south of France, where she gardened and made many friends and travelled to India, China and Morocco amongst many other destinations. As the years passed Rose's interest in photography was rekindled and she made several return visits to Jamaica in 1999 and subsequent years, meeting old friends and new, and took even more photographs.

In 2008-9 it became clear that Rose was struggling to manage her life at Mosset due to the onset of dementia. In 2010 Rose returned to the UK where she was resident in care homes until her death in 2021. Her son Will looks after her photographic legacy.

Rose Murray and friends in Majesty Gardens, 1974

The photographs from the 1970s were taken with a Mamiya C330 camera on Kodak 120 film, while later images were taken with a Pentax 645N on 120 film, and with Nikon and other 35mm film cameras.

The photographs make a unique and extensive archive of images of community life in Majesty Pen (now renamed Majesty Gardens) and new efforts are being made to publish and exhibit them.

Rose is an intrepid traveller and trips with camera from the 70s onwards include Haiti, Peru, Yemen, China, Nepal, India (several times), Kenya, and lastly Morocco, heading deep into the Sahara with the Blue Men and their camels.

After a very happy 20 years living in the village of Mosset in south-east of France, due to illness Rose re-retired to Somerset in 2010. Rose died peacefully on 23 July 2021.

Rose Murray: The People in Majesty

All Images Copyright Rose Murray 1973-2021


waemurray [at] gmail.com for further information