Jersey to Africa: An artist’s inspiration

Jersey to Africa: An artist’s inspiration

We’ve partnered with Friends of Africa Jersey C.I. to highlight Africa Awareness Week in Jersey. One of our Creative Island Partnership members, Emma Le Gallais, has shared her deep connection to Southern Africa, which has profoundly influenced her artistic practice. Emma’s story is a beautiful example of how cultural exchange and travel can influence and enrich different artists.

Although, Emma was born and raised in Jersey where she drew inspiration as an artist by celebrating Jersey’s heritage. Her talent is notably recognised in the Liberation75 official logo she designed, symbolising our island’s freedom.

“My name is Emma Le Gallais, and I am a Jersey-born and raised painter now based between Jersey and my favourite city in the world, Cape Town, South Africa. Like Jersey, my link to Southern Africa goes back many years; when I was three or four I announced to my mother, out of nowhere, that I wanted to go to South Africa. I don’t remember exactly what sparked this love, but it was consolidated when my Maman’s friend came to visit the family farm from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) with stories of mountains, wild animals and rich cultures.”

“Art was always my favourite subject in school, and I spent a lot of time painting Jersey’s stunning landscapes outside of school I loved learning about how influential African art was, and is, in so much of the artists’ work that I enjoyed — Cezanne, Picasso, and Matisse to name a few. However, it was a three-month trip that I took to South Africa in 2013 that really established and shaped my artistic practice. This trip, volunteering at an orphanage in a beautiful rural community outside of Durban, led me to live there for just shy of five years.”

 A Familiar Face (2018) oil on canvas

“People say that there is something magical about the African continent and once you visit, it’s hard to get it out of your heart, and I found this to be true! I looked after some amazing children who changed my life and I wanted to respond to all that I felt and learnt. A natural way for me to do this was through the visual, so I drew and painted a series of portraits, and this inspiration stayed with me.”

“I made the permanent move to Cape Town in July 2022 where I now practice. I paint in oils and one of the bodies of work I have been focussing on lately has been a series of landscapes of Kwa-Zulu Natal.”

“I feel like everything around me in this city and landscape inspires me — the vivid light makes colour seem richer and more alive. I live under the mountains I heard about as a child; I have a wonderful view of Lion’s Head from my door, and the culture, language and heart of the country makes every day so varied and rich. My sketchbooks are filling up from all the inspiration around me and I find myself at the easel wrestling between ideas and subjects — a creative dream —  all thanks to my favourite city in the world!”

Portrait of a boy in Monaco (2021) oil on canvas
Hilltop, KZN South Africa (2023), oil  

If you would like to support this year you can find the full line-up of events here: 

Friends of Africa Jersey C.I 

Friends of Africa Jersey C.I is a Jersey-based charity that positively promotes, shares, celebrates and enhances the profile of African-Caribbean culture and the continents in Jersey and the U.K.

We support the transition and integration into life in Jersey, put on events and activities and share African-Caribbean heritage in schools and workplaces. If you would like to support Friends of Africa, find out how here: .

FoAJ welcomes your support, for more information about how you can join their community click here.

The Creative Island Partnership 

The Creative Island Partnership (CIP) has been established by the Government as a forum for individuals interested in working together to deliver the objectives of the Arts Strategy. The CIP provides a space for knowledge exchange, ideas generation and direct engagement with Government. The network includes leaders from arts and cultural organizations, anyone directly engaged and involved with the arts, and lead partners in sport, education, business, health, tourism, and the environment. Members will be a part of developing the pillars of the Arts strategy. If you would like to know more about becoming a CIP member click here.

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