In Part 3 of ‘At home with Hadeda’ – a new series where we visit clients who have styled our furniture or decorative items into their homes – we visited friend of Hadeda, Jemma Powell.
Jemma is a British artist based in Oxfordshire, known for her painterly, observational landscapes drawn from a close contemplation of nature and her travels. We chatted to Jemma about her life and work, art as meditation and her new exhibition ‘Golden Thread’ taking place at Thyme.
Kate: Talk us through your favourite artwork from your Golden Thread exhibition.
Jemma: Masai Tribe is my favourite painting – it’s 150cm wide and my biggest painting to date. I had a lot of fun producing it, using big movements to create the shapes and working from memory. I find working from imagination and memory very freeing – it’s like a meditation. You have to connect to the feeling at that moment in time and your response and emotions come through the gestural strokes and mixing of colours. It’s very exciting as you never know what will happen!
Kate: Why is your exhibition called ‘Golden Thread’?
Jemma: I was lucky enough to have been written about by Millie Walton, the digital editor of Apollo magazine. She describes what I struggle to put into words but I try to describe in paint in this show. The ‘golden thread’, a term inspired by an essay by Caryn Hibbert, the founder of Thyme), refers to the invisible line that traverses not just geographical, cultural and temporal boundaries, but also boundaries of species to connect us all – people, animals, our environments. Simply put, it is the pulse of living.
Kate: What is your favourite: An African sunrise or sunset?
Jemma: A hard question – there is something so palpable about waiting for the African sunrise. Waking up in the dark and listening to the sounds of the night and then the first bird song … it’s the time when cats hunt… it feels electric and terrifying and exciting … and then suddenly … there it is – the sunrise in all its glory. Just magnificent.
Kate: What colours do you associate with African landscapes?
Jemma: Definitely the warmer tones – reds, oranges, yellow, pinks – but it depends what time of year you’re there . Sometimes it can be very green and lucious. I love the variety – it’s an artist’s visual feast!
Kate: Tell us about Tusk Trust and how you have been working with them?
Jemma: I met Charlie Mayhew the CEO of Tusk Trust about 10 years ago and was fascinated by the work the charity was doing and how they were achieving their goals. I fell in love with the way Tusk involves local communities to educate and protect their wildlife. I ran the Lewa marathon in Kenya this year and whilst I was there I was able to visit many of the schools and see the conservation projects – it was just incredible and I felt so lucky to have been honoured with the role of a Tusk ambassador. After visiting the conservation work I felt compelled to try to capture in paint and pictures, the beauty and the stories of the work being carried out.
Kate: What sets Kenya apart as a place different to paint versus other locations?
Jemma: It’s the beauty .. the vast landscapes .. the sea… the people… the laughter … the wildlife and the animals.
Kate: Does art help you in other areas of your life?
Jemma: It helps me to connect to myself. It helps me express myself and in turn I feel I can be centred and happy and a good mother!
Kate: When is your favourite time of day to create?
Jemma: Always the morning…. Fresh from sleep. I see colours clearly then and feel things more deeply. The best is sliding from waking into painting – often a dream-like quality in the painting comes out at this time and I have a burst of energy as everything comes sharply into focus. The transition from the dream-like state to consciousness is an interesting time to paint.
Jemma’s exhibition, proudly sponsored by Hadeda, is running in collaboration with Tusk Trust and will document Powell’s forthcoming trip to Kenya as an ambassador for the charity, shining a light on the conservation work across continents.
Discover Jemma's collection of Hadeda pieces in her home in our curated 'At Home with Hadeda' edit here
Learn more about Tusk Trust here
Find out more about Jemma's exhibition at Thyme here