BJ is an extremely talented artist who works mostly in acrylics and collages, as well as with oils when creating a captivating portrait. In figurative, landscape and wildlife, the use of colours and emotion that comes from her work are nothing short of inspiring and captured my immediate attention.
BJ was raised in Tanganyika in East Africa, where “the sea has always been nearby and had a great influence on me. My first home as a child was on Ocean Road in Oyster Bay in Dar es Salaam, at that time Tanganyika. When we lived in Bukoba on the great inland ocean, Lake Victoria, in my early teens I would sit on a rock in an arbour of sheltering trees, dreaming of the future as I gazed across those vast waters.” “Little did I know that Independence meant that my family would soon move to Praia da Rocha, buying a small hotel overlooking the sea.”
BJ worked in an artistic occupation as a production designer and has created sets for an impressive 800 commercials. Her job kept her travelling the world for many years starting in 1966, moving to Hong Kong where she worked “managing the Scene, its first discotheque and from there I moved to Sydney, Australia where I started in the film ‘biz’ at ABC TV, going from wardrobe department to design department before returning to the Algarve in 1972.”
Prior to emerging as an artist she produced the feature film The Right Juice - an Algarve Story. I was surprised to hear that BJ established herself as an artist only 10 years ago, as she has such a vast repertoire. She explained to me what inspires her the most, “stories, stories of life, people, animals, birds, creatures. Behaviour that changes the places they live or are influenced by their surroundings.” She uses creativity as an outlet, explaining “I have consistently built, sculpted and painted.” Adding that, “A sketchbook is always with me. To capture a story playing out in front of me, or to record an idea for a painting, or something. Something created to render that moment absolute.”
BJ has only done a handful of solo exhibitions, but she told me she has exhibited in various group exhibitions through the Algarve Artist Network, whereby they should hopefully do some exhibitions this year. Further answering what art means to her: “Art is a form of communication that releases something in myself, alone, quietly, intuitively, without getting on a soapbox or marching in a group. Perhaps creating works of art helps me to control and express my emotions!”
BJ ‘s most recent exhibition called “Ouvir o Oceano” translated from “Listen to the Ocean’” ran for over four months at the Portimão Museum, where her paintings captured brilliantly the beauty of the ocean and its inhabitants. “The exhibition was all about the sea. About celebrating the ocean and appreciating our biggest resource. In many paintings I turn to memories of music, recalling moments portrayed on my inner eye. Searching for a means to express these images I turned to music itself, to give it shape and colour, let it tell its own story, in the sea.”
“My childhood and teenage years in East Africa shaped my regard for nature and the sea. Animals there were wild and free. I was not afraid of them. They had their place and I had mine. Mutual respect. When I see the careless way humans are treating our Earth and its inhabitants I’m riled and appalled. I want to cry out and tell them to stop. To listen. To heed the cry of the birds, the anguish of the beasts and the muted call of those that dwell in the deep, deep sea, contaminated by our careless, selfish habits.” She affirmed that, “the sea will tell us everything if only we would ‘Listen to the Ocean’.”
“For the painting ‘Saudade’ I was inspired by the anchors on Praia do Barril depicting the dominance of the sea on the lives of the Portuguese fishermen and their families; that started this series. The call of the sea is strong. The women living in coastal towns suffer the absence of their menfolk with forbearance.” BJ’s painting of a plate of plastic waste as a meal entitled ‘Catch of the Day’ really stood out to me, acrylic and collage with a plastic tablecloth background, highlighting the urgency of polluting the ocean. To compliment the painting BJ also made a wonderful sculpture of Fernando Pessoa from plastic waste to bring attention to the state of the Ocean due to all the waste we throw out. After the successful journey around Western Algarve of the sculpture “A Waste of a Dolphin”, made with plastic waste collected on beaches, she said, “Throughout the pandemic I had been thinking about another plastic waste sculpture, asking friends to collect whenever safe and possible. In my mind was Fernando Pessoa. That quiet, enigmatic character sat upon his chair in Lisbon in front of the Café A Brasileira in Chiado.” That painting and the sculpture formed a centrepiece in the exhibition.
Some of BJ’s art works from her latest exhibition are still available for sale, for enquiries and more information about this fantastic artist please see https://bjboulter.com.