Moving Through Expression


From The Arts, The Sunday Gleaner, September 25, 2005
By Wandeka Gayle – Gleaner Writer

From subtle watercolours and colourful abstracts to bold, expressive oils, 38-year-old Jamaican artist Juliet Thorburn of St. Andrew, turned heads at her art exhibition last Sunday. The exhibition, dubbed ’Moving Through Expression’ and held at Richings Avenue in St. Andrew, displayed 50 of Thorburn’s works.

The exhibition, dubbed ’Moving Through Expression’ and held at Richings Avenue in St. Andrew, displayed 50 of Thorburn’s works.

While the artist’s penchant is for watercolour, and has been since she entered the exhibition scene in 1994, she has dabbled with oils, with exciting results.
 “The ones with oils I have found very inspiring,” she told The Sunday Gleaner, looking at a painting she called ‘Tree Goddess’ with long roots leading down and branches reaching up to the heavens.
 “But I am especially proud of ‘The Leap”. 
“I remember I went to Lover’s Leap some time ago and when I saw it, I was moved. I just started to paint like crazy. I did it one day and I could not do anything else. I could not move.”

Thorburn said that she knew she wanted to be an artist when she was four years old. “My grandmother was an artist and she would come to Jamaica bringing paints and paper. That was great encouragement.

Later, she says, “art class became my favourite class in school.”
 Thorburn went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 1984 to pursue this dream, first studying graphic design. She then moved on to Florence, Italy, in 1989 where she studied Illustration and watercolour.

She started exhibiting in 1994 and has had nine solo shows. Thorburn has also exhibited at the National Gallery’s annual shows and has participated in the Artist of the Year Competition, held by the Mutual Life Gallery. She taught at Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts for two years.
 This year she has begun private tutoring.

Thorburn’s magical, real–life depictions of plants and landscapes are her trademark. “I really don’t know what my fascination is with plants and landscapes, but I can say that is what does it for me.”
 “That is what gets me.”

Patrons at Sunday’s exhibition delivered a wealth of compliments.
 “Oh, I love this”, one patron said, examining ‘Arise’, the expressive oil with swirling blues, greens and purples.
 “It was a successful exhibition,” Thorburn said.
 “I sold about 20 of the 50 pieces.”
 She said that while she surprised herself by doing oil paints, she does not perceive a time when she will focus on any other subject but plants and landscaping. 
“I am not particularly drawn to the human figure, but you never know.”