Mural artist flying high
Robyn Hooper remembers covering rolls and rolls of paper with paint as a child.
At 30, her enthusiasm for art has grown — along with the scale of her work.
Her colourful murals are popping up around Hamilton, courtesy of the City Arts Festival's public introduction last year.
The newest is at Daylesford Theatre on Dundonald Street.
“The City of Hamilton had an arts festival in November and mine was one of five of 18 proposals selected to do a permanent art display,” Mrs Hooper said. “That was my first mural in Hamilton, the angel wings I did on Dundonald Street. A gentleman from BMDS saw me painting it and asked if I would paint something there.”
Other requests came in. She was paid ten turkeys for the superhero she designed at Butterfield & Vallis's Woodlands Road facility just before the holidays.
“[Owner] Jim Butterfield is a superhero and the mural will hopefully inspire others to give as generously as he does,” Mrs Hooper said.
“The turkeys were for children who wouldn't have had one for Christmas. They were given to the West Pembroke Neighbourhood Watch who also gave away two bags of food to each of the families who received a turkey; they do a lot for the West Pembroke Community.”
The acknowledgement meant a lot to the Foundation Year teacher at Saltus Grammar School. She hadn't had any training except for the art classes she took while a student at the Bermuda High School for Girls.
“I've always been interested in art, since I was a little girl,” she said. “My dad, [Keith DeSilva], would bring home rolls of paper from The Royal Gazette and I would paint all over them.”
She decided to study teaching instead of art, but never stopped painting. At college I painted inside my apartment. It was almost like having a visual diary. I would paint whatever was going on in my life at the time: what I was thinking, what was meaningful to me. I painted a big quote on my balcony wall; something like, ‘Life isn't about what you're looking at it's what you choose to see'. I painted the bathroom, the doors, always bright colours: big mermaids under water; a dragon in my bedroom.”
She was hired as the education coordinator at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art once she graduated.
“At Masterworks, there was an artist-in-residence while I was there, a graffiti artist from New York, Kathleena Howie-Garcia. She inspired me. She did a huge mural at the back of Masterworks and let me paint a big monarch butterfly as part of it. She let me have that freedom to paint big and I think I just kept going.”
She's now enjoying her work at Saltus but makes time for her own “creative stuff”. On Mother's Day she began offering adult art classes and creative retreats through her studio, The Painted Gate.
“Adults come and I walk them through one painting, brush stroke by brush stroke. They can bring wine, snacks and we have a lot of fun with that,” she said.
“I think creativity is the closest thing you can get to meditation. I used to teach meditation classes and they didn't really kick off. I think people liked them but they got afraid of going too deep.
“With these classes, every time I host them people say at the end that they've not been so relaxed in a long time. I think being creative helps calm people down. It helps us get back to a really good base level and helps us connect with others and love each other more. If by helping people be creative, I help them to be more kind and loving because they're calmer, that would be mission accomplished for me.”
Look for Mrs Hooper's next mural at Keith's Kitchen in the BAA car park.
“That's my parents' lunch wagon and I'm excited to paint something fun for them and the footballers,” she said. “They've always been my biggest fans, always supported me in any of my crazy ideas.”
• Contact Robyn Hooper on Facebook or, thegateisopen.com, for public art commissions, creative retreats or art classes.