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Presenting Jinx Morgan – The Ambassador Artist

Introducing people to the beauty of the BVI is our ‘ambassador artist’ Judith ‘Jinx’ Morgan – a watercolour painter with a fondness for lightness and brightness of our beautiful BVI vistas.

“Finding a wonderful subject and trying to capture its essence on paper,” is Jinx’s motivation as she explained that the BVI is never short of stimulating material. “There are many technical aspects to watercolour, but they are secondary to having a vision of what you want to say and saying it convincingly,” she continued. “What often inspires me, is the counterpoint of sunshine and shadow that is especially dramatic in the tropics.”

Many residents will know Jinx by her particularly distinctive signature works and the renowned establishment The Sugar Mill Hotel on Tortola, which Jinx and her husband Jeff sold more than a year ago. Despite her clear skill in the art world, this was not the artist’s original background.

Born in California, Jinx was raised in the San Francisco area, and attended Stanford University, where she graduated with an English degree. She and her college roommate wrote two bestselling cookbooks that led to a column in Bon Appétit Magazine. Writing a further five cookbooks, for several years Jinx was also the food columnist of American Airlines inflight magazine. Another career shift took place when Jinx and husband Jeff arrived in the BVI in 1982 to take over The Sugar Mill Hotel and she began painting five years after.

“Although I didn’t study art in school, I have been fortunate to have had many inspiring teachers including Roger Burnett, David Millard, Judi Betts, Jean Dobie, Carolyn Lord, and James Godwin Scott,” said Jinx. “When my responsibilities at the hotel prevented me from travel, we decided to offer workshops to other artists at The Sugar Mill and that way I was able to take the classes too.”

Like many artists here in the BVI, the Territory itself raises the creative abilities out of Jinx; however, her representation of the islands uniquely replicates the natural beauty, fascinating history, and various boats travelling through the region.

Painting with the same group of artists for many years, Jinx is part of a developed community of creatives who serve as an honest, humble, supportive group.

“We paint every Thursday and after painting all morning, we critique one another’s work,” said Jinx of the friendship circle. “When we first started the critiques, we were all very polite about others’ works, but now we’re fairly ruthless and we like it better that way as we learn so much more from one another. That is not to say we always take the critique to heart and change things in a painting. Sometimes suggestions are very helpful in improving the work, but often they just make us think and reinforce our initial approach.

“In 2006, 15 of my watercolours were included in a show in London at BVI House. Also, during the Duke of Gloucester’s visit to the BVI, he purchased one of my paintings as a memento of his trip. My work is in private and corporate collections in the United States, England, Canada, Italy, and Austria as well as the Caribbean.”

In 2015, many will remember that Jinx held a very popular show at the Old Sugar Works Museum. Lisa Grey of Images, BVI organised the event, displaying over 40 of Jinx’s paintings.

“In 2016, The Art Council of the BVI International Arbitration Centre selected six of my paintings to hang in their new offices in the Ritter Building and four of my paintings were chosen to hang on the walls of the Legislative Council of the British Virgin Islands,” Jinx continued.

With a subtle aim to provide a souvenir of the BVI’s beauty for all people who visit, she has had many examples where admirers of her works use them in precisely the manner she enjoys hearing.

“A gentleman purchased one of my hammock paintings and I asked him where he was going to hang it,” said the artist. “He said he thought it would go in his office.  A week or so later I received an e-mail from him in which he said ‘when I’m feeling really stressed, I look at the opposite wall and I’m back in Tortola relaxing in that hammock.  It’s like taking a mini vacation.’ I hope all my paintings give that much pleasure.”

Photography by Rainbow Visions BVI

Erin Paviour-Smith

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