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Jill Amos Raine's colourful life

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Jill Amos Raine with one of her latest paintings (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Jill Amos Raine says her life began when she moved to Bermuda (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Jill Amos Raine, right, with husband David Raine (centre) and an Inuit friend on Baffin Island (Photograph supplied)
Jill Amos Raine tries raw meat on Baffin Island (Photograph supplied)

Jill Amos Raine has painted and sold art in St George's since 1975.

So it made sense to her, when her husband David died in 2004, to sell their Devonshire property and move to Convict Bay.

“People told me not to make any major decisions for the first year after my husband died,” she said.

She ignored them.

The 79-year-old works one day a week selling art at the Dragon’s Lair Gallery on Somer’s Wharf.

She got her start in art with the help of a library book, which taught her the basics of making enamel jewellery.

She found a home for it at Bridge House Gallery, which sold large oil paintings by Sam Morse-Brown and other noted artists, volunteering her time there in exchange.

After a few months she bought Bridge House Art Gallery, and ran it for 28 years. She also ran Bermuda Memories, in King's Square from 2000 to 2010.

She learnt the basics of painting from a visiting artist who gave a weekend class for beginners.

“That was enough to get me going,” she said.

A plein air painter at heart, her watercolours of St George's have been given to everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and have even been included in a St George's time capsule.

Ms Raine came here from London, England at age 11 with her father, Frederick Amos, and her three brothers. Her mother Connie had died from cancer the year before.

“My father found a job researching colour television with Owen Harries,” she said.

The electronics engineer from England had patents out for various pieces of equipment. On Bluck's Island, his company Harries Thermionics worked to create colour television.

“There was only primitive black and white television at the time,” Ms Raine said. “There was a race on to see who could develop colour television first. Harries didn’t win it.”

RCA Laboratories in England began offering colour television sets in 1954.

Ms Raine was more concerned with life at the Bermuda High School for Girls where she was the only new student and initially struggled to fit in.

That there was no art on the curriculum was a huge disappointment.

“The only art was after school, and you had to pay for that,” she said. “I knew my father wouldn’t go for that.”

Instead, she threw herself into athletics. When she graduated she and her classmates were given four life options: secretary, teacher, nurse or wife.

Although Ms Raine “didn’t want to do any of those things” staff at BHS convinced her to go into teaching and she won a scholarship from the Bermuda Government.

At Edge Hill Teachers Training College in Liverpool, England she was instantly captivated by David Raine.

“He was quite dashing,” she said. “Most of the boys at that time were so boring. They were straight from mummy and secondary school – tweed coats and grey shirts and spotty faces. Then in comes this man in a bright blue suit with pointed boots and long hair. Phew. That was a nice change.”

They shared a passion for adventure. In the summers they hitchhiked around Europe and the Middle East.

“We had fabulous times through Syria and Jordan and all the way to Istanbul, Turkey,” she said. “We had no money, so we had one meal a day. We had a small loaf of bread between us, a bar of chocolate and a can of beans. That is what we ate for the whole summer, once a day. I don’t remember drinking much either.”

She carried with her a backpack with one change of clothes in it.

“I don’t think we did much washing,” she said. “It was so much fun. People would pick us up because they knew we were students.”

They married in 1964 and moved to Bermuda where Ms Raine taught at Francis Patton Primary School. Two years later they were on the move.

“We had both studied sociology,” Ms Raine said. “We wanted to find a culture that was completely different to our own in every way.”

Remote Baffin Island, on the easternmost edge of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, close to southeast Greenland, fit the bill.

They were tasked with teaching English to five- and six-year-olds in an Inuit hamlet located on Dorset Island.

“They did not speak a word of English, and we were forbidden by the education department to learn their language,” she said.

The Raines tried to learn it anyway and had a great time hunting and fishing with the people there.

“There was no television or radio, so they made their own fun,” she said. “They had their own games. They were very funny. They laughed a lot. That was the best year of my life. They were changing a culture before our very eyes, and we were part of it."

Their students were able to speak English fluently by the time the Raines left.

They taught in Spain for a few years and then returned to Bermuda. Ms Raine quit teaching when she became pregnant.

She is deeply proud of her children. Andre has a doctorate in ornithology and lives in Hawaii. Jason works in the film industry in Toronto, Canada.

Ms Raine is also very proud of her ability to make connections with people.

“I would like to think that I could talk to anyone or relate to anyone,” she said. “My husband was like that too. I would like to think we were inclusive rather than isolated.”

She has four grandchildren.

The Shadow Land, an exhibit of prints from Cape Dorset, is on at the Bermuda National Gallery through December.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published October 27, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated October 28, 2021 at 7:10 pm)

Jill Amos Raine's colourful life

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