There’s a lot more to shopping in Ochi than the craft market and clutch of duty-free jewelry stores. When I’m in the north coast Jamaican town I escape eastward, where I can browse (and inevitably drop some dough) in the pastoral surroundings of Harmony Hall, an art gallery and craft store in a historic gingerbread manse about 15 minutes’ drive from the town square.
Harmony has been open since 1980, when artist Annabella Proudlock acquired the property and began filling it with the work of her fellow artists and local craftspeople. Art lovers converge from all over Jamaica for the gallery’s seasonal exhibitions and craft fairs, but I’m particularly partial to the owner’s signature Annabella boxes, each decoupaged with reproductions of popular works by Jamaican and Caribbean artists.
The boxes come in three sizes, are priced between $13 and $15, and make great gifts. (Jewelry, Q-tips, paperclips … you can ALWAYS find something to put in an empty box!)
I think I got my first ‘bella box back in the ‘80s, and I’ve had a succession since then. But my favorite has to be the one I was given when I left my last job in Jamaica. My colleagues filled it with handwritten notes saying what they’d miss about me and wishing me the best as I jetted off to “foreign” … awwww. Now the box sits on my bedside table and every time I look at it I remember my Mo’Bay moments.