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Artist helps us count down to Christmas

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Jackie Stevenson got a bush baby for Christmas when she was a child living in Kenya.

The tiny primate, one of many interesting gifts from her father William, made that year especially memorable for the Bermudian artist.

She's hoping her locally-themed advent calendars will have a similar impact on others. Johnny Barnes and the Gombeys help count down the days until December 25; Santa also does his part, although he's traded in his traditional sleigh for a moped.

“With these calendars I wanted them to give people something to look forward to each day leading up to Christmas,” she said. “I remember my daughter Chloe was really keen on them growing up. I think she just liked the anticipation of it all and the idea of opening up a door a day and getting the chocolate that was inside.

“It was like a little countdown for her while she was at boarding school until she could come home and be with family.”

Those calendars were far removed from her daughter's life here, Ms Stevenson said. The pictures were usually of snow, bobsleighs and other cold winter scenes.

“It didn't seem to line up with our holidays in Bermuda,” she said. “I eventually figured why not have one with our own Bermuda images and themes?”

The mother-of-two followed through with that idea this year but ditched the chocolate because of the Island's humid climate. Each window opens to reveal one of her original, Bermuda-inspired images.

“I get so much satisfaction from creating art,” she said.

“It's wonderful being able to create something of your own from nothing and getting little influences from the things around you. All of that comes out in the creative process. There is this input of stimuli and you come up with your own unique take on things.”

It's a talent she thinks she likely inherited from her mother, Glenys.

“My mother was spotted as a talent when she was young and went to work for Sir Frank Whittle who designed the first jet-propulsion engines which changed the Second World War. She was one of the draftspeople doing the drawings. She was never allowed to know the full picture of what she was doing.

“It was on a need-to-know basis. I actually have one of her early illustrations of an engine. She had kept it and had it framed in her house.”

Ms Stevenson didn't recognise art as a viable career until well in her adult years. She spent 20 years in journalism after college, following in the footsteps of her foreign correspondent father.

A colleague at ZBM encouraged her to pursue her art professionally.

“I used to create a lot of pictures similar to those little cartoon strips that you would find in bubblegum wrappers. Mine had a skink on it and I remember the cameraman at ZBM saying, ‘Wow these are very good' and that sparked it.

“I enjoyed doing those and figured I should be doing more of that so I got my associate's degree at Bermuda College in art and design about ten years ago.”

She's since held several solo exhibits and also shown her work in Masterworks' Charman Prize. Her advent calendars are available at Brown and Co, the Bermuda Bookstore, The Irish Linen Shop and Pulp and Circumstance.

Bermuda themes: Jackie Stevenson with an advent calendar for the holidays (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Festive spirit: Jackie Stevenson with one of her advent calendars

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Published November 02, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 02, 2015 at 12:55 am)

Artist helps us count down to Christmas

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