First and foremost, we adore your art. Your journey has been an interesting one starting out as an actress, but how did you first get into painting?
I have always painted - as far back as I can remember sat at the kitchen table with my 3 brothers and my Mum who is an artist. My dad is a product designer and a brilliant draftsman, so I often would sit on walls in Menorca on family holidays, painting the Spanish fincas and wildlife with him. When I wasn’t acting, I was often painting and drawing at home all through my 20s and 30s. I drew the cover of my husband’s first album - but never felt confident enough to pursue a career as an artist. Then one night, 6 years ago my husband and I had one too many cocktails, and we created an art Instagram account. In the morning, we woke up bleary-eyed remembering what we had done - and I suddenly had a lot of followers. I was then connected with a local gallery that wanted to represent me and exhibit my work, and then last year in London, I had my first solo show - 'Searching for Stillness' - at Cricket Fine Art, the gallery that has nurtured me and believed in me as a painter and continues to represent me today.
Not only are you a brilliant supporter of ours at ACC, but you are also an Ambassador for Tusk. How did this come about and tell us a bit about their work?
I met Charlie Mayhew, the CEO of Tusk, 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 while 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.
Pictured: Jemma with Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk (left), John Pameri, Head of Security at The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (far right)
Your show 'The Golden Thread’ is opening at Thyme soon. Where did the inspiration come from, and can you tell us about your trip to Kenya?
'The Golden Thread' was inspired by my travels across Kenya earlier this year, where I observed how fragile life can be and this 'golden thread' that connects us all to nature. I wanted to capture the connection between the communities going about their ordinary lives while also being aware of the need to protect the natural world around them, forging a golden connection that bonds us all together.
Caryn Hibbert, the founder and Creative Director at Thyme, was equally inspiring with her writing and observations of the migratory birdlife in the Water Meadows at Thyme, the venue for my new collection of work, which travels between sub-Saharan Africa and the meadows in the Cotswolds. How extraordinary it is to bring these two elements together, and I am very proud of the paintings in this new show and to be able to donate proceeds of the sale of works to Tusk.
Millie Walton, Digital Editor of Apollo magazine, has kindly contributed the foreword to my catalogue, which has been a great honour too.
What an amazing (and very inspiring!) thing to run the Lewa marathon, congratulations. Who was faster out of you and Jack, and any funny stories?!
We both thought that we never be able to run the whole thing, but we did. Jack was VERY scared about the lions who had been seen by the start/finish line. We set off early at exactly the time when lions tend to hunt! The idea that we might be breakfast definitely kept us running faster than we had originally planned! Jack was definitely stronger in the legs but it turns out I’m fitter. When we finished, I was relatively ok but Jack kept screaming, “I’m going to have a heart attack.. I need a doctor”. He was, of course, fine!
Please pick your favourite 3 works from our ACC x Thyme collection and tell us why you chose them.
I absolutely adore Rosa’s colours, patterns, textures and bold mark-making…
This painting is so romantic and perfectly captures that heady feeling of lying under a tree and thinking of a lover.
Sunrise is my most favourite time of the day, and in that sparkly frost that Lucy captures so beautifully. She has a way of translating the light into the most exciting colours that just SING.
Huge thanks to Jemma for taking the time to talk to us. You can find her on Instagram here.