Q & A WITH JUDY ANN MACMILLAN

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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128 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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819 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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733 Hits

Cats Chaos competition

Cats Chaos competition

Cats Chaos competition.

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697 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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595 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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1213 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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1023 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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1084 Hits

Jamaica Observer newspaper - August, 6th 2018

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1212 Hits

British Vogue, December 2014 Christmas Issue

British Vogue, December 2014 Christmas Issue

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1288 Hits

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

CHINA CERAMICS DESIGN MAGAZINE, BEIJING, CHINA JUNE ISSUE 2014

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1110 Hits

Tableware International Magazine

Jenny Mein adds Caribbean flavour to the table

Jenny Mein, founder of Jenny Mein Designs, recently re-launced a stunning new website to showcase her exclusive fine bone china collection, "Breadfruit" inspired by the British Captain William Bligh of the Mutiny on the Bounty fame who introduced the breadfruit to Jamaica in the 18th century. The china is produced exclusively under patent and finished to the highest standard using traditional methods in Stoke-on-Trent, England, home of the British china industry.

The collection includes, coffee mugs, salad plates, delicate pill boxes, fruit bowls, jugs, square candy dishes and is ideal for special gifts, birthdays/anniversaries or sumptuous dinner sets for the stylish home.

View the article at Tableware International

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1139 Hits

Absolutely Magazine

Jenny Mein Designs feature in Absolutely Magazine, london, England www.zest-media.com, April 2013

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1109 Hits

Jenny Mein at the annual Commonwealth Countries League fair

Jenny Mein at the annual Commonwealth Countries League fair held at Kensington Town Hall, London with Jamaica's High Commissioner to London, HE Aloun Assamba

Jenny Mein at the annual Commonwealth Countries League Fair with Kensington Mayoress, Ann Hobson

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1217 Hits

Jamaica's 'Mein' Course

Jenny Mein interviewed for the Jamaica Observer:

Full article: www.jamaicaobserver.com/lifestyle/Jamaica-s--Mein--Course_12097652

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1112 Hits