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S Kingston unveils statue of Sintra Bronte

S Kingston unveils statue of Sintra Bronte The striking resemblance to herself. Sintra Bronte stands next to her statue commissioned by hotelier Christopher Issa.

A statue of Sintra Bronte, the woman at the centre of Jamaica’s iconic tourism campaign of the 1970s, was unveiled Wednesday evening at the Strings Restaurant at the S Kingston in St Andrew.

The statue, commissioned by S Hotel’s CEO Chris Issa and moulded by Jamaican sculptor, Scheed Cole, depicts Bronte in a wet T-shirt, with the word ‘Jamaica’ emblazoned across her chest, as she emerges from the Caribbean Sea. The image is from the photograph of Bronte which was used during the island’s marketing campaign which got under way in 1972.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who was the guest speaker at the unveiling event, disclosed that in the first year of that campaign, Jamaica registered a huge increase in visitor arrival, credited mainly to the “beautiful” picture of Bronte.

“Sintra is a Trinidadian and she carried Jamaica’s face worldwide. The very first year that poster was put in the marketplace, 500,000 visitors came to Jamaica, and the story I read said that it was attributed to that particular representation of Jamaica. Suddenly the world saw us in a different light, and it was a new way of presenting destination Jamaica,” Minister Bartlett stated.

He added, “Sintra has done for Jamaica what she never thought. She has no way of calculating the impact and the actual monetary returns because 500,000 people coming to Jamaica in the first year that the poster was in the marketplace, if we do the maths, we will understand what it might mean today.”

Bronte, who was living in Jamaica with her husband at the time, shared that it was a chance encounter at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston that she became the face of Jamaica. In an interview, she said she was at the venue waiting on her husband when she was approached by members of the tourist industry, who were there scouting talent for their advertising campaign.

They shot the iconic picture at Frenchman’s Cove in Portland the very next day, with the photoshoot taking more than seven hours. She expressed delight at being a part of the campaign, as well as her stay in Jamaica.

“Everything was so wonderful here. I will never forget here as I consider it my first home and I now consider myself a Jamaican and Caribbean woman,” Bronte said.

“At the time I never imagined that this would become an iconic image. I did it not thinking that this would turn out to be such an important portrait, as I have been recognised around the world because of it.

“I am just five feet (in height) but I became a giant in Jamaica. It is still a very unique photograph that is famous around the world today. To me the photo will not die,” she added.

Bronte also credits Scheed Cole for his impression of her with the statue.

“It is true to form. That’s Sintra and I love the eyes,” she said.

The, 42-year-old Cole was overjoyed to be commissioned to provide the sculptor, which he worked on with individuals he trains. He said it was made from waste material.

“This is an iconic image that is older than me, which I grew up seeing and when I was asked to do the sculpture, I was amazed that I would have even gotten the opportunity to do it. It is a beautiful woman and I thought it was a moment that would be embellished that would make a difference to Jamaican people,” he said.

S Hotel’s manager Kirk Clarke, shared that Issa got permission for the statue from Bronte last year, while she was in Jamaica celebrating the 50th anniversary of the photograph. He suggested that Jamaicans should create other iconic images and moments.

“Sintra has lost none of her beauty, but most importantly her natural warmth, which we believe radiates from the poster and represents the warmth of the Jamaican people. We hope that in honouring her with this statue, we not only recognise her contribution to Jamaica’s tourism, but that the statue will also serve as an inspiration to the new Jamaican icons, who will no doubt emerge,” Clarke said.