Julie Savage Lea, artist – painter from Bequia
As mentioned in our previous post, today we are posting a profile of a fine artist from Bequia, Julie Lea. She just finished work on a new book we are about to publish. Please, meet Julie:
Julie Savage Lea was fascinated and smitten with the island of Bequia from the first moment she saw it. She describes this experience in her book, called “”Bequia reflections”: “I first saw Bequia in 1978, from the deck of a steel-hulled, 48-foot ketch. My husband and I and our two small sons were guests of young friends, part of the self-styled “boat vagabonds”, who, in those days, plied the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We arrived after a rolling, fitful, all-night sail from St Lucia. In the predawn light we anchored in the sheltering calm of Admiralty Bay, just off Port Elizabeth. As the others sputtered ashore (…), I stayed on deck, exhausted yet dazzled by the visual feast before me. My first response to Bequia was to pull out my watercolours and record the soft explosion of clouds and colour in the sky as a golden dawn erupted over green volcanic hills and poured into the awakening turquoise harbour.”
“I wanted to capture the charm of what I saw that first morning- the languid parade of human and animal activity along the main street, the exotic trees and flowers, the diminutive shops and cottages, as gaily painted as the small fishing boats lining the beach.”
Julie frequently returned to the island to paint, and finally, in 2005, decided to make Bequia her home. She found the perfect place for her studio – Mango Tree Cottage, a quaint little house that she rents from her long-term friend and also a great painter, Vivian Usborne Child.
Most of the year 2012 she has been working on a book about her friend Peter Carr – another Bequia-fascinated painter. The book, titled “Bequia – the Feast of Colors”, will be published by our company Ozone Zone Books in early 2013.
We met Julie in her studio full of colourful and vibrant paintings, various objets d’art, and everyday things chosen for their strong primary colours. She spoke enthusiastically about the painting she had just finished for the Gingerbread Restaurant in Bequia, called “Tropical Eden.” The lush exuberance of the vegetation she captured there reminds me of the famous jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau.
We wrote about the Mango Tree Cottage in our book Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean: “This humble, small place has transformed itself completely under Julie’s influence, reflecting her own happy, artistic personality. With the presence of her paintings, it has become a vibrant colourful place and a joyful continuation of the tropical landscape that surrounds it.”
While visiting Bequia, you may see Julie walking alone, scouting for subjects to paint, or sketching hurriedly some life scenes passing by. She writes: “Under a brilliant sky filled with colour and movement, the glittering sea and an exotic parade of people, events and contexts leaps at me.”
We hope you enjoy this story. More soon, happy New Year!
by Margaret Gajek, Photos by Derek Galon
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