Caribbean Quarterly Journal

I’m honored and delighted to be featured in the most recent Caribbean Quarterly journal, the flagship journal on Caribbean culture published by the University of the West Indies (UWI). This current issue features the strong Irish Jamaican connection, a connection that goes back for centuries, and one that any of us Irish who live here are so happy to acknowledge. It is available at UWI Regional Headquarters, Hermitage Road, Kingston 7 (876-970-3261), or at the UWI Bookshop.


The cover features a section of a 60′ diptich mural in Scotiabank, Mandeville.


Two other murals, an 80′  mural in the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay of Jamaican life, and a 40′ mural in Starbucks, Liguanea Plaza, Kingston of the Lion of Judah.


Oil paintings and watercolors from gardens in both Jamaica and Ireland,


and the very  lovely editor Kimberly Robinson-Walcott asked me to write an artist’s statement, which encouraged me to articulate why it is I paint, which is an important exercise in itself.


Artist’s Statement

“I love how paint takes a life of its own, with the marks and tones and effects it can form if I can be free enough when applying it. Whether it’s oil paint or watercolor, there’s an infinite journey that can be taken with the aesthetics of mark-making and colour-work; the challenge is to maintain a fresh spontaneity within the framework of a recognizable form or scene.

My inspiration is always Nature and what’s around me, from the light on a distant landscape to the lines and shapes of a vine of hanging flowers to a still life of fruits. There’s a perfect spot between accurate drawing and loose brushwork, between sensitivity and spontaneity, between cool tones and a bright splash of colour. It’s that balance that I seek when I work. It can be elusive, and I make many mistakes, but it’s the joy that I feel when it works that keeps me coming back. With recent mural commissions I have followed the same principles, incorporating collage and glazes to introduce an element of contemporary social relevance. Ultimately I want each piece to manifest balance, to emit a feeling of harmony and serenity, to pay homage to the sense of the perfection that’s in the natural world.”




Walking into the Light

My first oil painting after a long break. And it went well, didn’t end up as yet another reject, which is a very good way to start back. These days are days of new beginnings, of new life, which I now realize is not an assured thing or to be taken for granted.


This painting marks the birth of our new Young at Art calendar too. It’s based on a photograph I took of a magnificent tree in the car park of the printery on the day I was signing off on the final version, after many tweaks and minor adjustments. I was heading back to the car, and as I’d just begun teaching a new block on Trees, I’d been looking at trees in a sleuthing way, looking for good ‘models’. This one really stood out, and was inspiration incarnate! So absolutely magnificent, a magical being right here in our midst. I took a few pictures of it, and thought I’d try to paint it myself.


When I got home the only surface I had ready was a 4′ x 4′ board, and so out it came, and I got to work. I applied much the same principles I’d been teaching for approaching trees, and so it went pretty well; all that presenting of shapes and interesting rendering paid off. And of course I had to work with yellow, as that’s the colour I’ve been consistently drawn to ever since I got my new lease on life; again, new beginnings.

The woman was so enjoyable to draw, and I love that she’s walking into the light with her arms full of work, engaged and productive and financially independent. I’ve incorporated the collaged newspaper technique that I was using for the Starbucks murals, and had to search through a pile of Gleaners to find the crosswords as my mother-in-law takes them out to do them – I was lucky to find a page with two grids still remaining!


I love the combination of Kingston life and The Gleaner. This same technique came in very handy for the motorbike, which I found very difficult… I’ve never painted or drawn a motorbike before, and it was so challenging. I had to repaint it numerous times, and so pasting over a bike that simply wasn’t working and starting again on fresh newspaper became part of the surface, and I like it. Keeps it from becoming overworked and stagnant.

It’s good to be back.