Flora’s beaming smile inspires artist Rhona Pedro
As Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal winner, Flora Duffy has been described as “an inspiration” to future athletes – a role model to young Bermudians who will be inspired to achieve similar accomplishments on the sporting stage.
But Flora is also proving an inspiration to others who excel in fields other than athletics.
Local artist Rhona Pedro has painted a portrait of the triathlete after being “overjoyed by her beaming smile”.
And the painter has gained thousands of fans after a time-lapse video of her work was posted on Facebook.
Ms Pedro put brush to canvas last week, spending several days working on the portrait.
The CedarBridge Academy teacher, who is originally from the Philippines, said that she was also inspired by Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won gold in Tokyo on the same day that Ms Duffy came top of the podium.
Ms Pedro said: “It was such a good feeling that both my beloved countries – the Philippines and Bermuda – got gold on the same day.
“Flora Duffy beamed with victory smiles on her way to the finishing line. My heart was so overjoyed that I sketched both Flora and Hidilyn in my sketchbook that day.
“One thing that inspired me to paint Flora was her beaming smile – even before arriving at the finish line, I wanted to capture her victory smile. And so when hearing about her homecoming, I wanted to join the celebration by painting her.”
Ms Pedro said she hoped her portrait captured the gold medal winner’s “confidence and determination” – but also her personality as a daughter and wife.
She said: “She knows she is a winner and knows she will hit the mark.
“But when I painted her, I perceived that she sparkles in her private circles – her friends, and most of all, her family.
“I am mesmerised by the thought of how her direct family nurtured her from a young child, discovering her interests and allowing her to flourish until this moment.”
Ms Pedro added that the triathlete’s name held special significance when painting the portrait.
She said: “I love that she is named Flora, which means ‘plants and flowers’ – unique to a particular area.
“In my portrait, I wanted to depict Flora as someone who represents many more flowers unique to Bermuda.
“In her message on Monday, Flora mentioned that she was not the first to do this and shared her respect for Clarence Hill. I am amazed at how kind a person she is. You know good flowers are like that – they let other flowers bloom too.
“My great hope is that her mindset and kindness show in my painting.”
Ms Pedro said that portraiture allowed artists to “share the beauty and essence of a person – to honour them for a lifetime and beyond”.
She said: “Every human being is unique, and I love to capture that in my portrait painting. When I paint somebody on my canvass, I want to capture the expression on the face that can be worth seizing, telling the audience a story.”
*Ms Pedro has submitted a portrait of another Bermuda hero, conservationist officer Jeremy Madeiros, to the Masterworks Museum’s Charman Prize exhibition, which opened on Monday.