From a barren, rocky hillside to the cultural epicenter that it is today, the Ahhh… Ras Natango Gallery and Garden has always had a special, unique atmosphere. In 1988, Ian Williams (Ras Natango) purchased the land that would later hold Ahhh... solely for the view. After years of pursuing his art, the land was terraced and a gallery built upon it. In 2009, the gallery and garden were well on their way to becoming a formal attraction. It was at this time that Ahhh... Ras Natango Gallery and Garden was registered through the Jamaican Tourist Board.
Ian is a chartered accountant by profession, but art has always been his first love. His paintings are presently in the Half Moon Golf and Country Club, who own and display over 400 of his paintings.
Guests visiting Half Moon would commission paintings, and he even entertained them in the unfinished room he used as his work room. In 2009, he set about establishing a gallery to showcase and sell his work. We visited many banks, but none of them were willing to fund the vision, as they did not believe it was possible. Mark and Frances then, even though they were not official partners, helped us many times along the way to fulfill the rigid requirements of the Jamaica Tourist Board to get us registered, as we continued trying to make an effort to bring art to our rural community.
Deplorable road conditions created a major deterrent to visitors, so we lobbied to have the roads refurbished, and they have since been repaved. 2012 was a difficult year for everyone all over the world, even so in Jamaica. It looked bleak, but we never gave up. After being forced into laying off our staff, the three of us stood our ground and worked daily hoping that something would change. In November 2012, instead of closing Custom Blends Jamaica (a company owned by the Tucci's), we forged a bond between both businesses. A shuttle bus was purchased, wrapped and things have been moving positively ever since. Construction of the entrance of the driveway, purchase of additional property to extend the garden and with no worries about salaries, we all focused on preparing the most comprehensive ecotourism product Jamaica has. It now takes ten of us working daily to maintain and prepare for the new tourist season.