Q & A with Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins

Jenny Mein is in conversation with Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins.

BRETT ASHMEADE-HAWKINS is the founder of The Jamaica Colonial Heritage Society, an organisation for those interested in preserving Jamaica’s vanishing British Colonial architecture, art, antiques & genealogy. He is also recognised as an authority on West Indian colonial art and antique furniture and has been a fine arts &antiques dealer for over 40 years through his company, Art, Antiques & Appraisals which is based in Miami. Brett was born in South Kensington, London, England to an English father, T. Evelyn Hawkins (a direct descendant of William the Conqueror and the Plantagenet Dynasty), and a Jamaican mother whose ancestors had been in Jamaica for over 300 years and owned coffee and sugar plantations. After prep school in England and his mother’s homesickness for Jamaica, the family settled in Jamaica where he attended Cornwall College, a prestigious boys school (established 1896) in Montego Bay and Campion College, a Roman Catholic co-ed in Kingston, Jamaica. He later studied history, classical art& archaeology at Princeton University.

Question 1: What is your earliest London memory?
I remember my parents taking me to see Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I must have been 5 years old.

Question 2: Your childhood memory of Jamaica?
The happiest times of my childhood in Jamaica were spent at Fernleigh, the family’s summer cottage over 4,500 feet up in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. It belonged to my uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Denis LeMercier DuQuesnay, and we absolutely loved spending part of every summer up there.

Question 3: Where do you live now and why?
I moved from Miami, Florida to Manila in the Philippines in March 2022. The Philippines is made up of a number of very beautiful tropical islands and they remind me a lot of Jamaica, but thankfully are without all the violent crime and racial tension that we have in Jamaica today.

Question 4: What does home mean to you?
I have lived in England, Jamaica, America, Belize and Costa Rica, but I shall always think of England as home. I used to think of Jamaica as my second home, but it has changed so much since the 1970s that increasingly I no longer feel at home there.

Question 5: What made you start Art, Antiques & Appraisals?
I was originally planning to be a lawyer. My father’s family in England had a strong legal tradition. His great-great-grandfather, John Hawkins (1791-1877), was a partner in one of the oldest law firms in England which was founded in 1591. My father’s great-great uncle, Sir Henry Hawkins, Q.C, later the 1st Baron Brampton (1817-1907), was a very famous barrister and later a judge of the High Court in Victorian England. He was the barrister in the famous “Tichborne” Claimant Case, the judge in the infamous “Cleveland Street Scandal” and later the judge who presided over the Appeal in the Oscar Wilde case. However, when I was at Princeton University, I had several friends who had gone on to Harvard Law School. They were so miserable there and hated it so much that I gave up the idea of becoming a lawyer. Since I was studying Ancient Greek and Roman Art and Architecture at Princeton,
I toyed with the idea of becoming an archaeologist instead. However, after just one summer spent on an archaeological excavation in Greece, I decided that it wasn’t for me. I had always grown up in historic houses filled with Private Collections of fine art and antiques, so becoming an art and antiques dealer and then an appraiser seemed like the logical career choice for
me. So I started up in the art and antique business in 1985 and I never looked back.

Question 6: Who has influenced you in your career and taste?
I would have to say that my mother was the biggest influence on my career and taste. She loved 18th and Early 19th-century English art and antiques and had impeccable taste. Her style when it came to interior design was very much a mixture of English Country House and Jamaica Plantation Great House from the British Colonial period. She was very keen on Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton mahogany furniture, Georgian Silver, Derby Imari China and Heriz Persian Rugs, as well as curtains and upholstery in Rose Chintz and Indian Crewel. She managed to flawlessly combine those with Early 19th-century Jamaican Colonial Mahogany furniture such as sideboards, four-poster beds and Planters Chairs. She also loved Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology, opera, classical music and gardens. My father loved history, art, English literature and film. Both of my parents had a profound influence on me
and on my tastes.

Question 7: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My friend, the late Clyde Verley of Thetford Hall Plantation in Jamaica told me “There are too many lawyers in this world so just do whatever makes you happiest”. Best advice I ever had.

Question 8: What do you consider your greatest achievement or, what has been the best moment of your career?
Publishing my book on “The Plantation Great Houses of Jamaica” will probably be my greatest achievement, but some of the best moments in my life were spent travelling to various countries with my good friend, Prince Egon von Furstenberg. He was an incredibly sophisticated and amusing character and he introduced me to so many famous people in international high society. He used to tell the most wonderful stories and he was an endless fount of scandalous society gossip, none of which can be repeated here.

Question 9: A museum that has really impressed you?
The British Museum in London, because it is so vast and has such an impressive and comprehensive collection. It was founded by Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) who was actually a collateral ancestor of my mother. By a strange coincidence another collateral ancestor of my mother, Sir Edward Maunde Thompson (1840-1929), was later director of the British Museum from 1888 to 1909.

Question 10: What do you collect?
I used to collect 18th and early 19th-century Jamaican Colonial furniture, as well as antique paintings, watercolours, prints and maps of Jamaica. Also books on Jamaican Colonial History. However, I sold off most of my Private Collection before I left Miami, Florida and moved to Manila in the Philippines. I only kept one 19th-century watercolour, two 18th-century prints and one 17th-century map of Jamaica. Although I did ship all of my mother’s 18th and 19th-century ancestral portraits, silver, china and Waterford Crystal here to Manila. They are currently on display in my Condo in Makati.

Question 11: What is your most treasured possession?
My 18th and 19th-century ancestral family portraits. They embody the history and genealogy of my mother’s ancestors, the Ashmeade, Rose, Bromley, Whitehorne, Lawrence, Hilton, Ewbank, Tracey, Goulburn and Cole families, who were some of the oldest families amongst the British Colonial Plantocracy of Jamaica.

Question 12: How would you describe your aesthetic?
I particularly love the 18th and early 19th-century Georgian and Regency periods. The art and antiques, the architecture and gardens, the costumes and the classical music. It was a splendid era of great style and sophistication, something noticeably lacking these days.

Question 13: If you could buy any building in the UK and live there, which would it be and why?
I would have to say the 18th-century Neoclassical villa in Bath that now houses The Holburne Museum. It is absolute Palladian perfection itself.

Question 14: An historic house in Jamaica you love and why?
Arcadia Great House in Trelawny. It has everything that you could want in an early 19th-century Plantation Great House in Jamaica. An avenue of stately Royal Palms leading up to the house. A site high up on a mountain, with constant cool breezes, and breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside and distant coast. Large and airy high-ceilinged rooms leading out to wrap-around verandahs on both floors. An interior filled with Jamaica Colonial art and antiques that has remained unchanged since the 1840s. It’s like stepping back in time to another era.

Question 15: An 18th/19th-century Jamaican painting you love and why?
I have a Late 19th-century watercolour of Content Estate, a large Sugar Plantation in Hanover, Jamaica, by Frederick Cooke, c. 1878. It is absolutely charming. The plantation is situated in a beautiful vale and is surrounded by wooded mountains. It shows the 18th Century Great House and the Overseer’s House on two separate hills and the Sugar Works in the vale below located in between them. Cane fields spread out in every direction. It is such a quintessential scene of old Plantation life deep in the rural countryside of 19th-century Victorian Jamaica, so very picturesque, peaceful and serene. A glimpse of a vanished World.

Question 16: What sort of garden do you fantasise about having? Formal landscape or informal cottage?
I grew up with formal gardens. We lived on an 18-acre hilltop estate in Brandon Hill overlooking Montego Bay, Jamaica and my mother had a 4-acre Italian Garden. It had terraces, a garden staircase, classical urns and statuary, an avenue of Cypress trees, a gazebo, a rose garden, an orchid house and huge sweeping lawns. It was quite well-known and visitors used to come to see it. So I have always preferred formal Italian gardens to any other type of gardens. Although I must confess that I do like a stately English Deer Park around a Country House. I think that William Kent, Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphrey Repton were absolute geniuses when it came to 18th Century English landscape design.

Question 17: Do you like entertaining?
I used to. My mother was quite the hostess when we lived in Jamaica and she entertained constantly, which was easy when you have a large staff of servants. She continued to throw dinner parties in Miami and was famous for her fine food. That all ceased after she had a stroke in 2010. I entertained quite a bit when I lived in South Beach in Miami and also in Belize, but now that I am in a wheelchair and no longer have servants I just don’t entertain on the same scale. I’ll still have two or three people to lunch or to tea occasionally, but certainly no more dinner parties or cocktail parties.

Question 18: Who would you most love to invite to your dinner party?
I like witty and sophisticated people, who are well-educated and well-travelled and knowledgeable about the Arts, so I would say either Petronius Arbiter or Oscar Wilde.

Question 19: An indulgence you will never forgo?
Triple-Creme Brie and Figs.

Question 20: What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am the co-founder of Feed the Homeless Street Children of Manila, a charity campaign that my partner Francis Ian Cabrera Garcia and I started in December 2022 after moving to the Philippines. For more information and/or donation please visit the link: https://gofund.me/d70b8F84. I have also just begun a brand new series of Vlogs on YouTube titled “The Inconvenient Truth” by Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins. I discuss a wide variety of subjects on it from Art to Pop Culture, Politics to Religion and Social Issues to Current Affairs. I urge everyone to watch it and to hit the Like and Subscribe Buttons.

Question 21: What would you grab if there was a fire?
My Ancestral family portraits. That and my Fire Insurance Policy.

Question 22: What would you like your epitaph to say?
“Brett Evelyn Ashmeade-Hawkins, Esq., Architectural Historian and Aesthete. He had a passion for beautiful things”.

Jenny Mein

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Q & A with Jamaican photographer Cookie Kinkead

Photo credit: Tracy Barry

Jamaican-born Cookie Kinkead is a respected international photographer. Her first official assignment in the early 70s was with Bob Marley & the Wailers for their album “Catch a Fire” and spent 3 unforgettable days roaming Kingston in a little jeep trying to pin down members of the group! Since then, her work can be seen in a host of international publications including Elle Décor, Vogue, Australian Vogue Living, National Geography, and The World of Interiors.  She has also photographed HRH the Prince of Wales now His Majesty, King Charles III, and celebrities including Ralph Lauren, Grace Jones, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Bono, Quincy Jones and Nancy Kissinger to name a few.

Cookie has recently collaborated with freelance writer, Alexandra Edwards on a beautiful & elegantly illustrated coffee table book “Living Jamaica Country” capturing interesting and extraordinary homes in Jamaica.

Jenny Mein caught up with Cookie Kinkead to ask her questions about her life and work.

Where do you live and why?
My “soul” home is the South Coast of Jamaica .. near a small fishing village.

What did you aspire to be when you were a child?
Other than to be a good tree climber and not fall and break anything … I don't recall aspiring to be anything as a child … however, from I was about 4 years old I always had a camera (without film!) around my neck. I guess I was destined to be a Photographer!

What drew you into the world of photography?
I had returned to Jamaica after spending two years in Madrid, Spain and after some weeks of going to the beach every day, I realized that I should probably look for something constructive (and fun) to do, so without having any portfolio, I boldly called Maria LaYacona, (an American Photographer living in Jamaica), and asked if I could apprentice with her. She very graciously said yes, and I learned a lot from her and her assistant at the time, (my long-time friend), Cecil Ward.

Where did you study photography?
I never have had any formal study. I just started shooting, asked a lot of questions, and made a lot of mistakes (and still do)!

What is your photographic style?
Relaxed. I “see” rooms, hotels, homes, and people in their mood/essence. I don’t use lighting.

What equipment do you use?
The least possible. I usually have a small Sony camera, perhaps a backup Pentax if needed and if the iPhone can take the image, that’s what I’ll use! I’ve had clients meet me at airports over the years and ask where my equipment is and be mortified when I point to a small bag slung over my shoulder.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment or which of your work are you most proud of?
For years I did the photography for Island Outpost/Chris Blackwell hotels and we created amazing visuals and vibes.

Publishing books over the last few years has also been very satisfying.

It’s difficult to choose only one really as so many assignments are exciting, and yet a challenge at the same time. To satisfy both the Client and myself is always considered a big accomplishment!

Your favourite photographers?
When I was young I was fascinated by Diane Arbus and how she zoomed right IN to strangers’ souls. It certainly did not appeal to me to photograph like that, but her imagery was haunting and daring. Annie Leibowitz has done some pretty amazing portraits.

For scenic imagery, Ansel Adams.

Who has been your greatest influence?
My parents and grandparents.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
I’d be a gardener.

The best piece of advice you have been given?
Find your passion and be yourself

What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a photographer today?
Discover what area you are passionate about in photography and submerse yourself in it.

Some of your best ideas have come while?
Floating on a body of water

An indulgence you will never forgo?
Travel … so much to always be curious about, discover, learn and appreciate

What is your most treasured possession?
My eyes. I don't consider anything that can be bought a treasure.

What would be your dream photographic project?
To capture the complexity of Jamaica on all levels, in imagery

What projects are you working on at the moment?
Another book on Jamaica, very different from “Living Jamaica Country”

The collection you love from Jenny Mein Designs botanical bone china collections?
LOVE the Breadfruit Collection.

November 2022
Jenny Mein

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Jamaican High Commissioner


Farewell presentation of Jenny Mein Designs "Lignum vitae Flower" bone china tea set to the outgoing Jamaican High Commissioner, His Excellency, Mr. Seth George Ramocan by members of the Lignum vitae charity at the Jamaica High Commission in London recently. In the photo are Angela Edwards, Angela Newby, (Chair, Lignum vitae Club), and Valrie Stewart, (PR).

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National Black Women’s Network

Jenny Mein describes herself as an artist and designer first, but used her love of art and Jamaica to launch the elegant and stylish Jenny Mein Designs. In her own words she describes her collection as “Beautiful bone china tableware inspired by fruit & flowers of the Caribbean” which allows its owner to enter a world of gracious living.

What aroused your passion for botanical painting?

As a child, growing up in Jamaica, I was always drawing and painting especially during the long summer school holidays. I would spend most days outdoors with my pencils and watercolour paint box, sketching and painting the brightly coloured flowers, zinnias, hibiscus, morning glory and fruits, mangoes, pineapples and ackee growing in our large country garden. So many colours, textures, shapes. A veritable Garden of Eden to explore. One couldn’t help being inspired in that garden. There were many fruit trees as is typical of Jamaican gardens.

As a child, living on a sugar estate it is a very sheltered, secluded environment. We are miles away cut off from the freedom and excitement of towns, friends, and city life. We entertained ourselves by reading books, and comics, drawing, painting, riding our bicycles along the avenues of coconut trees and cane fields which surrounded the sugar estate and having picnics at the estate staff club. Now and then our parents would drive us to see a movie in a nearby town or to a friend’s birthday party.

What was the inspiration behind your first collection “Jamaican Ackee”?

I was working as a food editor for a lifestyle and travel magazine in London which focused on the Caribbean islands and I cooked and styled the food for the photoshoots.

One summer we were doing a lovely spread and I wanted to style the food on plates decorated with tropical fruit and flowers. Well, I looked in all the best shops and could not find a single plate with a tropical motif. This was the early 1990s. Immediately, realising there was a gap in the market, I decided I would produce my own botanical plates using my hand paintings of Caribbean fruit & flowers.

I decided my first collection would feature the ackee as it is decorative and the national fruit of Jamaica.

What was the reaction to your first collection?

I launched the Jamaican ackee collection at The Jamaica Expo Trade Exhibition held at Olympia in London in 1998.

It was wonderfully received as of course the collection is unique and so attracted a crowd of Jamaicans including the late Hon. Butch Stewart, founder of Sandals Hotels, Omar Davis, former Finance Minister in the Jamaican government and many more to my stall.

Subsequently, there were interviews and features in the Jamaican papers and magazines in London. It was a very encouraging response to the collection and a marvellous moment for me.

Did you write a business plan?

No. I jumped straight in and simply followed my passion for the project. Passion, determination and hard work can get one through the many challenges of a start-up business.

Explain the importance of being part of the Friends of Georgian Society of Jamaica

I believe it is very important to me to be a member of the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica and I also sit on the activities committee.

I am passionate about preserving Jamaica’s beautiful and unique historic buildings, not only the buildings but also the 18th-century historic botanical gardens such as Cinchona in the Blue Mountains and Castleton in Bath, St. Thomas too. These are part of the culture and we should try to restore and preserve them for future generations.

I became a member of the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica at the beginning when in the late 90s, two Jamaicans living in London, Dr Pamela Beshoff a former information attaché at the Jamaica High Commission in London and Patsy Robertson, director of information at the Commonwealth Secretariat founded Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica.

Sadly, both have since died but they left a lasting legacy and the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica continue to thrive, raising much-needed funds for buildings in disrepair and attracting many new like-minded members.

You have a strong love for Jamaican Culture, so what made you use bone china to reflect this?

Yes. I do love Jamaican culture.

I use bone china for my tableware collections as I wanted the china to be of good quality and elegant. Bone china is considered to be the highest quality ceramic used in tableware as it is strong and durable for everyday use. It doesn’t break easily.

The hand-painted fruit and flower motifs make the china collections unique and extra special whilst promoting the fruit and flowers of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

What family memories have been the greatest influence on you?

Family is very important to me. My parents, especially my father have been a great influence.

He was a very strict disciplinarian with great intellect. He made sure we read widely and the bookcases in our living room were filled with books from the entire bound volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica to contemporary literature. He was very keen on us having a good education and sent us to good private schools in Jamaica. With six children, I don’t know quite how he managed it but he was determined that we spoke well, had good manners, and were well-read.

I remember at the dinner table he would encourage us to participate in passionate discussions about any and everything. We each had to share our opinion and speak up. We had to read the national newspapers that day so we could have something relevant to say otherwise he would stare witheringly at us if we sat and had nothing to contribute.

He was an industrial chemist and was in charge of the production of rum and sugar at the estate. He would often invite us to his laboratory taking us on tours to see the sugar and rum-making process. After which, we were rewarded with hot sugar poured into paper cones from an ancient industrial pipe.

You are a bit of a foodie, how have you incorporated this into your business?

Well, it seems to have been unwittingly part of the process.

From writing about food to producing tableware. The perfect creative business for someone like me who enjoys entertaining, cooking and laying a beautiful table with flowers, pretty china and glass for a dinner party.

How has your sector changed since you started?

It has changed enormously. When I started in the 90s there were very few botanical tableware on the market, the most popular then was Portmeirion.

Now you enter a department store and the china department is awash with a variety of floral tableware from small and large companies. It is quite incredible.

Even so, Jenny Mein Designs is the go-to place for good-quality tropical botanical tableware.

What characteristics and habits do you think have contributed the most to your success?

My father was always saying to us "apply yourselves, apply yourselves". ...."Don't let anyone stop you from following your dreams"! He gave me confidence. Growing up in an idyllic although solitary environment far from the mainstream we were always going to be different.

I spent many hours reading as a child. I was a voracious reader, I always had the desire to learn and explore other cultures, and being creative, intuitive, and imaginative, I was not at all interested in the mundane. I wanted things to be perfect in their simplicity. The quest for perfection is always going to be frustrating but I am also determined, have self-belief and I never give up if I can help it.

These characteristics have led me to produce my tableware collections not thinking too much of the price involved in producing them but the satisfaction gained in creating something unique simple, and elegant.

What plans for the future?

I shall continue producing my botanical bone china collections as I enjoy drawing, painting, and designing. I love the creative process.

I am also thinking of producing textiles such as tablecloths, cushion covers, etc. all of these of course will be inspired by my memories of the flowers and fruits growing in my beautiful childhood family garden in Jamaica.

If you’re feeling inspired by the designs of Jenny connect with her on Instagram @Jennymeindesigns or visit www.jennymeindesigns.com to see her wide range of her rich elegant collections.


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Q&A with Barabara Blake Hannah 2022

Barbara Blake Hannah, OD

Barbara Blake Hannah is a Jamaican writer, journalist, filmmaker, and cultural consultant in the Jamaican government. She emigrated to London in the 1960s and worked as a PR executive for the Jamaica Tourist Board. In 1968 she became the first black TV journalist in the UK working for the BBC. In 1972 Blake Hannah returned to Jamaica as a PR Officer for the Jamaican film The Harder they Come and subsequently joined the Rastafarian religion, and articulate campaigner for acceptance of the religion. In 1984 she was appointed an Independent Opposition Senator, the first Rastafari to sit in the Jamaican Parliament. Barbara Blake Hannah’s book” Growing Out”, was recently published with a new introduction by Penguin Books UK.

Jenny Mein is in conversation with Barbara Blake Hannah May 2022

Question  1
What did you aspire to be when you were a child?

When I was a child I wanted to be a dress designer, because I loved to draw clothes for the dolls in the cardboard cut-out books we used to play with as a child. Then I wanted to be a best-selling novelist like O. Henry and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I used to read a lot and they were my favourite authors.

Question 2
Who has been your greatest influence?

Without a doubt, my greatest influence has been my father, the journalist Evon Blake, who set the example for me as a writer, as someone who earned their living by writing. From I was born I saw my father sitting at his typewriter, writing, writing, writing. He published a monthly magazine SPOTLIGHT that was usually all his own work because he always quarreled with the journalists he hired because they never wrote as well as he expected them to. He was also a very political man, friends with all the leaders of that time, not just Jamaican Government politicians like Bustamante and Manley, but also the Caribbean leaders like Bradshaw, Cheddi Jagan, and Marryshow. I got used to being around people like them from an early age, so I fit in comfortably when I met people like them in later life. My father grew me up to be brave and fearless, making my sister and I swim with him far out from the beach to the deep sea, then swim back to shore by ourselves. We could swim well, so we knew we couldn’t drown, but I had to have the courage to press on with confidence till I reached the beach. I still benefit from that exercise.

Question 3
What has been your most favourite journey?

My favourite journey was going to Hollywood in 1999 with my son Makonnen. I had been to Hollywood twice, years before he was born on visits to stay with my movie star girlfriend Vonetta McGee. But this time was really lovely. Mak was part of a team with two American tech teens who had built a website working online for ThinkQuest, an international student website design competition, and they were flown to Los Angeles for the finals with several other youths and their teachers. As Mak and his two friends were all home-schooled, we mothers got to accompany them as their ‘teachers’ and ThinkQuest had laid on a real superstar visit for us all, first-class hotel, celebrity scientists as speakers, and all sorts of lovely prizes and surprises.

Not only did Mak’s team win an award. The best part was when we all were taken on a tour of the Warner Brothers theme park, driving down Bob Marley Boulevard through amazing sets recreating scenes from some of the famous blockbuster movies. We saw train wrecks, floods, sets of Old England, spaceships, and the African jungle, it was exciting, surprising, and huge fun. Then they gave us dinner in a huge sound stage, where actors dressed up as famous movie characters and chatted and posed with us. Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra were some of them. Marilyn Monroe was quite fascinated by Makonnen and his dreadlocks, posing beside him with a red lipstick pout for the cameras.

On the return journey, as we were boarding the plane and walking through First Class with Mak carrying his huge award, a man smiled and told him Congrats. Turns out the man was one of the most famous and richest American computer game designers, one of Mak’s heroes and idols. Makonnen was speechless that this man knew what the award meant, and had praised him. It really was my most favourite journey, and I have been to Cuba in Fidel’s time, met Saddam Hussein in Iraq, a was a film festival judge behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany, but this was definitely the best.

Question 4
Your earliest London memory?

I remember my first look at London, driving in from landing at Heathrow, and thinking how huge it was, how un-pretty, how there were so many white people and not a single Black face to be seen! It was quite a shock being in a place where instead of the Black and brown faces I was used to, instead everyone was just White. Not a friendly face in sight!

Question 5
What advice would you give to young women who are beginning their careers?

My first and only bit of advice is SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Save something from your salary every payday. Invest in health insurance, put away something for your Pension, for retirement. Don’t think you’re too young, or you will earn BIG money one day, or your husband will be rich and take care of your money worries. Build a Savings Account and plan to own your own living space. Start with buying a small apartment, and watch it increase in value till you sell it and buy a larger one, perhaps a house of your own. If you marry a man who gives you a home, you will always have your investment. Rent it out and become a landlady. You will soon have children who will grow up needing somewhere to live. Teach them the benefits of Saving, also. I wish my parents had done that. They always forget. They worry more that you should ‘marry well’ or not get pregnant. Forget that! The best marriages of all can fail, husbands die accidentally or suddenly. But real estate always increases in value. Savings always earn interest. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE.

Question 6
How much has your life changed since becoming a Rastafari and campaigning on their behalf?

My life has grown better and happier since I became a Rasta. I never used to understand or believe what and who God was, even though I tried to live a Godly life. It was always difficult to believe that Jesus Christ ‘died for me’ and that there was a God who was hearing and answering my prayers. Becoming Rasta taught me the deep and true meaning of God in my life and how to live according to the principles taught in the Bible. Rastafari enables me to see God through Black spectacles, as Garvey said we should. Rasta taught me to see the Bible story as a Black story set in Africa, which makes it easier to overstand than a story about the same White people who enslaved my African ancestors so brutally. Rasta taught me that coming from African ancestry is a noble source with an interesting and majestic history that I am proud of, especially the history of Ethiopia. Rastafari offers a different way of looking at life and the world.

The oldest church in the world was recently found by archaeologists at Axum in Ethiopia, dating back to the First Century. I am sure it is the Church Mary and Joseph took the child Christ to after they left Jerusalem. The Eurocentric world wants us to forget that Jerusalem is in North Africa, not someplace they call ‘the Middle East’. They want us to think that the Three Wise Men came over from England. Not so. It all took place in Africa. That’s the real story that we were never told. Seeing life as part of the English world made me feel so inferior. I hated to see myself through the eyes of the British Empire only as a slave descendant. But being a Rasta I see myself as part of a history of Kings dating back to Solomon, Queens like Makeda, Empresses like Zaudito and Emperors like Haile Selassie. I am really happy being a Rasta. I am an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Rasta. I don’t campaign, I just speak my truths.

Question 7
Where do you live and what do you love most about it?

I live with my son in a rented townhouse in a big complex ‘uptown’ at Constant Spring. There is enough space for me to have a home office, and for him to have a home studio where he does his personal music work when he is not recording an artist in a studio elsewhere. There’s a pool and tennis courts, but I have never used them. What I love most about the complex is the big wide lawn outside that I look out onto in the mornings, with trees that birds nest in and wake me up with their songs. I can see the sun rising over the mountains in the east, and if I tiptoe on the balcony I can see the sea far off in the distance to the south. I started growing strawberries in pots on the steps down to the lawn and I have reaped a few already! Best of all, the neighbours are quiet, with no dogs barking, no children bawling, and no late-night parties. A little bit of heaven, thank you JAH.

Question 8
Which famous person would you most like to come to dinner?

Angela Davis. The woman who I wished I was in the 1960s, who inspired me to grow out my natural Black hair, who fell in love with George Jackson, who dared to defy the racist American political System, and who is still alive today. I know we would spend a lot of time laughing, maybe finish a bottle or two of chilled white wine.

Question 9
What is your most treasured possession?

My son’s love.

Question 10
What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am completing my biography of the rest of my life, the sequel to GROWING OUT. It’s called GROWING UP – DAWTA OF JAH about my life since returning from England and becoming a Rasta. It’s finished, but it keeps needing updating, as life continues happening, but I think I will stop now and just take a rest from writing. I would love to see JOSEPH – A RASTA REGGAE FABLE, my novel inspired by the life of my friend Bob Marley, made into a feature film. I would love to work on that.

Question 11
What are your hobbies?

Growing strawberries, social media, enjoying being alive!

Question 12
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Love JAH and live!

Question 13
What would you like your epitaph to say?

The Lord JAH has been my Light and my Salvation.

Question 14
Your favourite collection from Jenny Mein Designs botanical bone china collections?

The Ackee Collection is the nicest, but the Poinsettia collection looks spectacular!

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512 Hits

A stroll at Chiswick House.

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602 Hits

Chelsea Life magazine, October 2021


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620 Hits

Nourishment for the Soul

An inspiring stroll in the beautiful and romantic Italian gardens at Chiswick House, a Palladian Villa built and designed by the 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), Chiswick, West London.

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710 Hits

House & Garden magazine

Discover our brand and much more in the October 2021 issue of House & Garden magazine.

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651 Hits


Judy Ann MacMillan is a Jamaican artist, best known for her finely observed portraits and landscapes of Jamaica. She was trained at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, Scotland. She has exhibited in Jamaica and the USA and in 2012 exhibited at the Jonathan Clark Fine Art Gallery in Fulham, London. Judy Ann lives in an enchanting 18th century house on a hill in St. Ann, Jamaica with magnificent views to the sea where she runs an artist retreat. She has recently published her autobiography “Born Ya”.

1. How long have you lived at Rockfield?

I bought Rockfield in 1981 and did a great deal of my painting there. It was difficult to do anything else there in the early years as it was pretty remote and without even a telephone for the first fifteen years. But it was ideally suited for staying focussed on painting as there were very few distractions. I was spoiled by that uninterrupted solitude which allowed to build a rhythm that went from day to day. My painting thrived on it.

2. What is the history behind your house?

Rockfield is a very small plantation house on a cattle and pimento property. It was built in the 1700s and some of the foundations go back to that time but it had always been a family home. It started as a modest mountain cabin which was purchased by the Cotter family and added to over the years as their family grew. Nine children were born there. When I asked Miss Dorothy Cotter who had grown up there to give me some of the history of the place I left with a blank sheet of paper as nothing of great moment had happened there. But the weddings and family gatherings have continued during my occupation.

3. What is your favourite room in the house?

I am an early riser so I like the morning room which faces east and is mostly doors and windows on three sides to the garden.

4. Describe the view from your studio?

There is a very small room used for portraits and finishing landscapes that I call the studio. I can see the garden and the barbecues behind the house from there. Beyond the barbecues the pastures stretch back to low hills in the distance. It is possible to paint out of doors year round in Jamaica so the entire house was my studio. Unsheltered, at an elevation of sixteen hundred feet there were panoramic sea views from the front and mountain views from the back. The feeling of being on an island was enhanced by the constant breezes.

5. Were either of your parents creative?

Both parents were very creative. My mother loved the decorative arts and my father adored the entertainment business.

6. If we didn’t know what you did for a living, would it be obvious if we came to your house?

Yes. There is always an unfinished painting on the easel in the studio and a strong scent of oil paint and turpentine in the air.

7. Your favourite trees, plants in your garden?

I love my royal palms, the poinciana trees , the lilies in May, the wild vanda orchids. In the backyard moringa, ackee, and otaheite apple trees that I planted are my favourites.

8. A landscape you love?

The mountains behind Kingston are a favourite subject and of course coastal views and pastoral views in St Ann.

9. Who or what inspires you?

The paintings of the Old Masters have inspired me from youth and they still inspire me.

10. What are you painting at the moment?

have been lying fallow as I have never been very good at combining painting with other things and I have just moved into a new house that I built in Kingston. For about a year building and moving into the house has taken all my energy.

11. Your most loved possession?

The raw, undeveloped land that I have managed to buy around Rockfield gives me the most satisfaction.

12. Your house has the most beautiful veranda looking out to the garden, perfect for entertaining. Which living or dead artists would you invite to your dinner party?

I have invited Julio Larraz, the contemporary Cuban expatriate artist to a dinner party but he hasn’t come yet. I would have liked to have Lucien Freud as well but Edward Lucie- Smith would have to be there to speak to him because I would be much too awed. Although I have read that it was an intrepid soul who would try to meet his eyes across a room, which indicates that he was probably very shy as well, and Botero. I’m sure Botero would be fun.

13. And what would you serve?

Jamaica’s rural food cooked out on the barbeques

13. What should no Jamaican home be without?

An open veranda or terrace.

14. What’s the best advice you have been given?

Advice on painting water comes from Albert Huie…”you must ignore the water. Paint everything else and its refection as well as you can. Ignore the water until the very last day, then quickly add some touches of light and do not touch it again.”

Advice on writing a book comes from Edward Lucie-Smith “Write separate beads and then string the beads.”

Advice on negotiation from my father “Never close the door completely leave it open a crack so that your opponent can come back”

15. What are some of your favourite pieces from Jenny Mein Designs?

Jenny Mein Designs specialises in bone china tableware and textiles inspired by memories of the fruit and flowers in her beautiful childhood family garden in Jamaica? I especially love the Jamaican ackee design and treasure the coffee mug you gave me.

Jenny Mein in conversation with Judy Ann MacMillan
February 2021

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1169 Hits

Guest Profile Q/A - Valerie Facey

Valerie Facey strolling on the beach, Jamaica

Mrs. Valerie Facey, patron of the arts and wife of the late Hon. Maurice Facey, O.J is the driving force behind the Mill Press, the well-known Facey family publishing house in Kingston, Jamaica.   Valerie Facey was born in England but has made Jamaica her home since the 1950s. It is her love of good books and her passionate interest in Jamaica’s heritage and natural resources that inspired the development of this remarkable publishing house.

THE MILL PRESS is a prestigious publishing house in Jamaica incorporated in 1990 whose aim is to showcase Jamaica’s rich historical heritage with reproductions of rare old books and manuscripts as well as quality productions of new and varied titles.   Jenny Mein is in conversation with Valerie Facey.

  1. What has been your most favourite journey?
    From the age of 5 years old, I had the privilege of spending 7 extraordinary summers at the traditional farm of my Nanny/Governess (Minnie) at her humble home in Minnesota, USA.

  1. Which of your projects do you consider to have been your most passionate?
    My discovery and subsequent publication of “Belisario – Sketches of Character”. A historical biography of a Jamaican artist.
  1. Which living or dead historical figure would you invite to your dinner party?
    Isaac Mendes Belisario – 1794-1849.....OF COURSE!
  1. And what would you serve?
    Smoked marlin for starters; followed by Roast Leg of Lamb, with: lamb gravy,  roasted potatoes, lightly steamed broccoli, haricot vert, baby carrots, roasted, fried breadfruit chips; sauce for the lamb would be guava jelly w/fresh garden mint. Dessert: sweet potato pudding (pone) with rum sauce.
  1. What projects are you working on now?
    A History of the Facey famil.
    Ongoing research on  Constant Spring Estate, Kingston, Jamaica (since 1664.
    My autobiography.
  1. What is your home like? How do you decorate it?
    Jamaican/Georgian architecture with parquet flooring; filled with multiple shelves of books, paintings and sculptures.
  1. What are the favourite plants/trees in your Jamaican garden?
    The Mammee (‘Marmey’) Apple Tree…nutmeg tree, citrus trees, ornamentals; begonias and other tropical trees, plants and blooms.
  1. What is your most loved possession?
    My grandmother’s ‘Jensen’ upright piano w/cabriole legs
  1. What is your hobby?
    Reading and opera
  1. What is the best advice you have been given?
    To stay in Jamaica
  1. What items do you covet/would you buy from Jenny Mein Designs? Jenny Mein specialises in fine bone china tableware and textiles inspired by memories of the fruit and flowers growing in her beautiful childhood family garden in Jamaica? The bone china, especially the Breadfruit series.
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1933 Hits

Q&A with Emma Lewis

Emma in a blouse by
Jamaican designer Courtney Washington

Emma Lewis is a writer, and blogger - regularly contributing to Global Voices and Jamaica Gleaner. She is director of both the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, and Recycling Partners of Jamaica. She is very active and passionate about  environmental issues. Jenny asked her some questions about her life in Jamaica...

1.  You have lived in Jamaica for 31 years - what is Christmas Day like in Jamaica compared with your childhood in Sussex, England?

For me, Christmas Day has changed over the years, depending on who I am spending it with, and where. We have lived in Jamaica for 31 years and we love Jamaican Christmas Day eats: baked ham, candied sweet potatoes, and a drink of sorrel (with a drop of white rum in it). Jamaican Christmas menus tend towards sweetness. At home in Sussex, England I always enjoyed the delicacies we ate only at Christmas: Turkish Delight, all powdery in a round tin, dried muscatels on the vine. Again, rather sweet!

2. What are the favourite plants/trees in your Jamaican garden?

I love everything in our Jamaican garden: lignum vitae trees (Jamaica’s National Flower); our stately guango tree; and our big bushes of pink, red and orange bougainvilleas.

3. What/who inspires you the most?

I am inspired by Jamaicans’ creativity, resilience and independence.

4. What do you wish you had known when you started your career/move to Jamaica?

I wish I had known how very trying life is for many Jamaicans, before I came here – how hard people work.

5. What items do you covet/would buy from Jenny Mein Designs?

So hard to choose, but I would buy the Caribbean Garden bone china set and a tankard mug. I love the breadfruit cachepot, too!

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1537 Hits

Cats Chaos competition

Cats Chaos competition

Cats Chaos competition.

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1497 Hits

Annual Commonwealth Countries League Fair 2019 held at Kensington Town Hall, London.

Annual Commonwealth Countries League Fair 2019 held at Kensington Town Hall, London.

Annual Commonwealth Countries League Fair 2019 held at Kensington Town Hall, London.

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1365 Hits

Win £250 of Designer China for Jenny Mein Designs

A great offer for subscribers of ‘House Beautiful’ magazine.

1 prize to be won! Enter here: https://comps.housebeautiful.co.uk/competition/MeinDesigns_housebeautiful

Jenny Mein Designs are carefully produced to capture the essence and beauty of Caribbean gardens with their abundance of fruit and exotic flowers. 

You could win this fresh and pretty green and white bone china collection.  The design is  inspired by the Breadfruit which was brought from Tahiti to the West Indies in the 18th century by the great British explorer, Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on HMS Bounty fame. Its name is derived solely from the texture of the cooked fruit which is similar to that of freshly baked bread, hence its name.

The china is decorated with breadfruit motifs from original hand-paintings by Jenny Mein. The range includes co-ordinating place mats and coasters. The china is produced exclusively under patent to the highest standards at Stoke-on-Trent, England, using traditional methods and is hand- gilded.

The Jamaican Breadfruit bone china collection is one of a selection of collections available to view on the Jenny Mein Design website.

You can win one enchanting Breadfruit collection set comprising 4 dinner plates, 4 fruit plates and demitassee coffee cups and saucers - to the value of £250.

Competition ends on 31st August 2019.

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1992 Hits

Floral interiors get gothic and surreal:super-sized flower prints featuring wild animals and household pests take over our homes this season

Floral furnishings are surreal this season. Super-sized blooms enfold entire walls, backgrounds are inky and moody, and colours unnatural. If you peer into the petals there could be stranger elements: is there really a snake in that bouquet?

Ted Baker puts bold bouquets on sateen double duvet covers, £90, and pillowcases, £35 a pair (ashleywildegroup.com).

Ralph Lauren’s swirling floral tableware in black or indigo is made by English craft pottery Burleigh (cereal bowl £32; salad plate £34).

And Jenny Mein hand-paints the exotic fruits and flowers of her childhood family garden in Jamaica for bone china made in Stoke-on-Trent (£16 for a mug, £20 for a salad plate).

Source: Homes and Property. Read full article.

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1778 Hits

Tableware International Magazine : Celebrating the royal baby

Jenny Mein Designs has sent a line of its botanical bone china designs to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in celebration of the birth of their first child

London-based designer Jenny Mein of Jenny Mein Designs has despatched a selection of her botanical bone china from her china collections, which are inspired by the fruit and flowers of the Caribbean, to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who recently welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, seventh in line to the throne.

The selected coffee cup and saucer designs also celebrate the roles of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s roles as Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors.

The Espresso coffee cups and saucers feature the Jamaican ackee, a fruit from the ackee tree (Blighia sapida) which grows in gardens in Jamaica and is the national fruit of Jamaica. The ackee is also famous as the main ingredient in the delicious Jamaican recipe Ackee and Saltfish.

Other motifs include Breadfruit brought to the Caribbean from Tahiti in the 18th century by the great British explorer, Captain William Bligh of the mutiny on board HMS Bounty fame and finally, Caribbean Garden depicting fruit and flowers which are native to Caribbean gardens.

The china is decorated with original hand-paintings by Jenny Mein. The china is manufactured to the highest standards in Stoke-on-Trent, England, using traditional methods and is hand-gilded.

Jenny Mein is a former international magazine food editor and was inspired by memories of the flowering plants and fruit of her childhood’s beautiful family garden on an 18th century sugar estate in Jamaica to design her botanical bone china to celebrate the fruit and flowers of Caribbean gardens.

The Jamaican Ackee china collection was the first of her botanical china collections which was launched in 1998. Jenny has subsequently developed a number of individual ranges and featured in magazines and newspapers. The china collections are available to view and purchase at www.jennymeindesigns.com.

Source: Tableware International

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1887 Hits

Jamaica Observer newspaper - August, 6th 2018


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1957 Hits

British Vogue, December 2014 Christmas Issue

British Vogue, December 2014 Christmas Issue

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2112 Hits

People: Jenny Mein - Design and Love", pages 110 -113


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1964 Hits