Artist’s 22 portraits on show at Masterworks
George Jones opened the door for Jane Masojada at Elbow Beach Hotel.
John Woods stood in front of her as she watched a horse race in Devonshire.
She asked if she could paint them.
“He was just such a beaming character and so warm and welcoming,” she said of the popular doorman at the South Shore resort.
Mr Woods, meanwhile, “had the most interesting face”.
Their portraits are part of an exhibit, People of Bermuda, opening today at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
The Paget gallery gave her a list of people to consider, she came up with the rest.
There are 22 portraits in the show; Chewstick Foundation founder Gavin Smith and his daughter Eden, taxi driver Marvin Iris and actor Michael Douglas are among them.
“I didn’t just want it to be about the great and good,” Mrs Masojada said. “I wanted it to be about everyone.”
The South African, who lives in England, has been visiting the island for years with her husband Bronek, a Hiscox insurance executive.
Her portraits of Bermuda residents James and Lauren King caught Masterworks’ attention.
“I have been amazed at how generous people have been with their time and trust,” said the artist who flew here twice to photograph and sketch her subjects in their homes, on the beach and at work. I really got to know people.”
Most of the painting was done in her kitchen in England so she could stay close to her family. The project took about a year.
“It was definitely a full-time job,” Mrs Masojada said. “By the end of the project I had paintings propped up against every surface in the house; some of the paintings were lifesize, the rest of the family had to step around me.”
The paintings went on exhibit at the Hiscox Art Café in London last month, before they were shipped to Bermuda.
Her love of art grew out of a childhood passion for horses.
“At 8 [years old], I really wanted a horse,” she said. “I saved up for a saddle before I even had a horse. It was a very cheap, second-hand saddle which cost a few rand in those days.”
When her parents didn’t immediately come forth with a horse to go with the saddle, she consoled herself by drawing the animal — endlessly.
“To this day it’s just about the only thing I can do from memory,” she said.
Despite that, when it came time to choose a career, she decided against art.
“I always loved understanding how things work and biology was my other love,” she said. “I decided to study science because I thought I could always pick up art again later, but I couldn’t do science later.
“I also had a fear that art school would put me into a box in terms of how I painted. I didn’t want to paint like anyone else; I wanted to paint like me.”
She briefly worked as a science teacher in South Africa and Australia, before settling down to raise a family of five in England.
For a long time, art took a back seat to the rest of her life.
“I would paint when my children would let me,” she said.
Ten years ago, with her children grown, she took up painting more seriously. “I started going to art classes in London and making more of a routine of painting,” she said.
Information about her work spread and then, last year, her portrait of British actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was accepted into the London Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ annual exhibition.
“They have 2,000 entries and they only choose 100,” she said. “It was a huge honour to be chosen. It was the first time I entered, so I was very happy to be in.”
People of Bermuda is her first solo show.
It will hang in Masterworks’ Rick Faries Gallery until June 13.
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