Sculpture of Sintra Bronte Commemorating Her Promotional Poster for Jamaica Unveiled at Iconic Event

Trinidadian model and entrepreneur Sintra Bronte is well-known for appearing in what the Jamaica Tourist Board has described as the agency’s “most impactful promotional poster.”  The poster, published in 1972, features a photograph of Bronte in a wet, red t-shirt with the word “Jamaica” printed in black, clinging to her body as she emerged from the Caribbean Sea. Now, commissioned by the chair of the S Hotel, Christopher Issa, the Linstead-based artist, Scheed Cole, has created a sculpture that gives the iconic image physical form. The sculpture will be housed at the S Hotel in Montego Bay.

Celebrating a historic moment in tourism history

An event commemorating the poster and the introduction of the sculpture was held in the Strings Restaurant at the S Hotel Kingston in St Andrew on May 15, 2024, and was attended by Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, chair Issa, and Sintra Bonte herself. The poster earned numerous global travel awards and was also recognized by Grammy Award-winning musician, Alicia Keys, who recreated the photo in 2015. As the S Hotel in Kingston had been featured in past years with other works of art by Jamaicans to represent the island’s culture, it was not surprising that Issa brought up the idea of the sculpture to Sintra, asking if she would approve the work. Issa told her she would have to return to Jamaica when the sculpture was to be unveiled, and she agreed right away. Sintra lived and worked in Jamaica for years before moving to Tobago.

Bartlett noted an increase in visitors due to Bronte poster

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, was the guest speaker at the unveiling, and he shared that the photo of Bronte was credited as the reason Jamaica saw a huge increase in the number of visitor arrivals in the first year of its use in tourism promotion. He said that although Sintra is a Trinidadian, “she carried Jamaica’s face worldwide.” The first year the poster was displayed, 500,000 visitors came to Jamaica as the world suddenly took a new look at the island.

History of the photo

According to Bronte, who resided in Jamaica with her husband at the time, the photo opportunity stemmed from a chance meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. She stated that she was waiting for her husband at the hotel when members of the tourist industry who were scouting talent for an advertising campaign approached her. They then shot the iconic photograph at Frenchman’s Cove in the Parish of Portland the next day. The shoot took over seven hours, she said, while expressing how she loved being part of the campaign. In an interview, Bronte said everything was “so wonderful” in Jamaica. “I will never forget it as I consider it my first home.” Bronte added that she now considers herself a Jamaican and Caribbean woman and that she never imagined the photo would become an iconic image or as important as it has become. “I have been recognized around the world because of it,” she said. She also praises Scheed Cole for his vision of her in his sculpture. “It is true to form. That’s Sintra and I love the eyes,” she said.

Photo – Lyndon Taylor