Mural in BTC flagship store celebrates spirit of Junkanoo
Many people have been in and out of the new flagship store for Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (BTC) at the Mall at Marathon, but few may know the story behind the vibrant Junkanoo mural covering one of its walls.
The mural was designed by well-known local artist Anthony “Big Mo” Morley, whose realist oil paintings are a far cry from the funky and stylized conceptual design.
Yet Morley is a rather versatile artist and with his extensive background in Junkanoo – dancing under Junkanoo legends and creating winning costume designs – he was the perfect artist to approach for the mural.
“I wanted to bring the exuberance of Bay Street,” says Morley. “I wanted to incorporate the origin, which is based in Africa. I wanted to put into there some really old sophisticated designs that really reflect the talent of all the artists we have here in The Bahamas.”
With BTC supplying the color code that meshes Bahamian flag colors with the BTC brand colors and the overall desire to create a space that was inherently Bahamian, Morley provided a design in a short amount of time that impressed the company.
The company blew up the image to completely take over one of their walls, creating a vibrant environment for their store that taps into the cultural landscape and consciousness.
“Junkanoo really represents the spirit, the rhythm of our people,” he says. “It incorporates our culture, our history, through music, art, dance.”
“I think BTC wants people to know that they’re here and they’re part of what’s happening in the country and they want to show it,” he continues. “And one good way to show it would be to get involved with the people and Junkanoo is a phenomenon that they would want to be a part of.”
Indeed, the mural is just one part of BTC’s effort to reflect “Bahamianness” in their branding, explains Marlon Johnson, vice president, brand and communications at BTC.
“I think one of the driving forces when we looked at the store itself was the desire to create a space that was both forward-looking and also respectful of the Bahamian cultural context and Bahamian sense of place,” says Johnson.
“Of course, one of the more significant cultural
expressions is Junkanoo. We thought it would have been a really important step to give it a sense of place by having something that reflected the spirit of Junkanoo.”
To that end, BTC also made significant contributions to all Junkanoo groups in the A and B categories, as well as Junior Junkanoo groups across The Bahamas and to the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Parade.
Not only that, but BTC featured local artists painting live at their grand opening celebration earlier this month – an exciting move for an art community that continues to look for opportunities to take their art to public spaces and celebrate the variety of creativity. For BTC, it is only the beginning – they hope as they expand to continue to support local artists of all genres.
“We want a sense of Bahamianness reflected in everything we do and in the partnerships we make,” explains Johnson. “When we engage in the community we certainly are going to be in tune to many other cultural expressions like dance and theatre and see how we can support Bahamian artists of all genres as we move forward.”
It’s good news for Morley, whose mural has proven to be an opportunity to get Bahamians excited about their rich heritage of cultural expressions.
“I want them to see the uniqueness of all things Bahamian,” says Morley. “I want them to appreciate the Bahamian talent. I hope they would feel the exuberance and the life that within the mural.”
“I’m just one of many great artists but we have many talented designers and I’m glad BTC embraced us because now other corporate giants may see the need to hire us,” he points out.
Indeed, Morley hopes that such a successful example through BTC’s efforts can inspire other Bahamian corporations and government to tap into the vast pool of hugely talented Bahamian artists and foster a sense of community and creativity.
“I would make a plea on behalf of other artists to the corporate Bahamas to embrace us, and do the same thing BTC did,” says Morley.
“It took years for one corporate giant, the newest on the block, to come to The Bahamas and embrace Junkanoo they way they did,” he points out. “I think all the banks and insurance companies and even the government should follow suit and do a similar thing that BTC is doing.”