Shirley Brossman might have been painting for years, but 'Jersey Icons' - her art series aimed at colourfully immortalising local stars - is her very first exhibition.
“I have painted since I was a young girl. It’s my passion, my hobby. I stopped for some time, but I always doodled. I started painting again in 2005 but it was mainly for my family and colleagues.”
Although her hobby takes up most of her free time, and her bedroom – “I have dozens of paintings stacked up in the bedroom,” she confesses – Shirley is only an ‘amateur’ artist, who taught herself how to paint by watching Youtube videos and looking at other artists’ work. “Studying History of Arts at the London College of Arts taught me a lot about art and different artists. It was fantastic, and it inspired me to crack on.” As much as she loves art, Shirley’s day job has nothing to do with painting. At all. “People wouldn’t believe what I did if I told them. It is almost as if there are two me’s, one very serious, the other doing colourful paintings!”
Pictured: Jersey resident and artist Shirley Brossman.
Shirley’s favourite things to paint are portraits, although she also sometimes ventures into doing landscapes and ‘still lives’. “I love portraiture. I love character and what you can see in a face.”
Unsurprisingly, ‘Jersey Icons' is a collection of 12 portraits of famous figures from the island. They include Sir Walter Raleigh, actors Lillie Langtry and Henry Cavill, golfer Harry Vardon as well as fisherman Alphonse Le Gastelois, and stained-glass artist, Henry Thomas Bosdet, to name only a few.
Pictured: Shirley's colourful portraits are reminiscent of stained glass
Stained glass is actually one of Shirley’s sources of inspiration. “It inspired my use of colour. I always do very colourful portraits using acrylic paint, brushes and a pallet knife for textures. I paint quite spontaneously, I don’t really think about the colours, it just comes.”
With her colourful icons, Shirley wanted to tell the story of Jersey where she has been living for the past 26 years, “…through characters past and present that are significant to the island.”
“Each painting comes with a story next to it,” she explains. “So that people can view it and understand its relevance.”
Shirley started working on the series in 2016, although some are a bit older than that. Most would probably be surprised to know that it only takes Shirley a couple of hours to complete one of her icons. “The longer it takes, the less satisfied I am. I paint very quickly until I look it and think, ‘…that’s it, it’s done.’”
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