If Jill’s is a calm and refined style, evoking nostalgia an depicting humble Bajan scenes, her granddaughter’s approximation to painting is much bolder. Holly’s work features explosions of colour, representing marine life in psychedelic tones that jump out at you from the canvas, or sailing ships against the backdrop of dramatic sunsets. Sharing her grandmother’s creative streak, 20 year old Holly has been a successful artist in her own right for some years now, having had her first exhibition at the age of 17 in the “Youth Group of Seven” show in Canada, where she studied for two years. Having grown up by the sea in Barbados, Holly has always felt most at peace by water – so a lengthy sailing excursion and a University course in Marine Biology was a natural fit. Her aquatic passions influence her artwork too: “It began with the sea – marine life, then travel. I was sailing on a tall ship for 9 months and then I volunteered for a month on a game reserve in Botswana. I painted something from both of these experiences for the show.”
The middle link in this family of artists is Sue. Born in Barbados, she completed further education and worked in the UK before returning to the idyllic Caribbean island to join the family business in 1990, where she specialised in design. Her signature souvenirs depicting colourful turtles and beaches have become a Barbados trademark but, interestingly, Sue only recently discovered her artistic talent after being inspired by her daughter: “I’ve been painting for 3 years. I watched Holly doing amazing things and wondered if I too could maybe paint. I got started with the help of a local art teacher, Indrani Whittingham”. After a few sessions with Indrani, Sue never looked back and she had her first exhibition in 2009 at a collective show at the Tides Gallery, supported by her husband Chris.
Like her mother Jill, Sue is captivated by the Barbadian landscapes and life she sees around her, telling Kenwood Travel: “Barbados is full of inspiration. In my daily life on the island I constantly see things that I want to paint. I try and take things from a slightly different angle to the norm, or in a different light. I love reflections, light and mood”. Like the rest of her family, she mainly works with watercolour and oils – although she’s not afraid of experimenting with other techniques. Her subjects range from bucolic landscapes to lavish still lifes and portraits – and she has no plans to seek artistic inspiration elsewhere: “Barbados is an amazing place to live and work. As a painter there is inspiration at every turn.”
The artwork of this exceptional family of painters is currently showing in the “Three Generations Art Show” at the Gallery of Caribbean Art in Speightstown until the 12th of April. It has already received a rapturous reception, with many of the artist’s work having been sold.
This exhibition is a great opportunity to get an insight into the island through the work of three generations of artists; to witness the past, present and future of an exceptional country; a place where, in Sue’s words, “you have the time to stop and chat, to walk on the beach at sunset and to swim with the turtles. Your kids get a good education and there is time for the family. The people are genuine and the climate is great. Life is as it should be.”