Every Picture Tells A Story
picture tells a story for Hethersett artist Jo Cole.
paintings reflect scenes and memories from her African past.
was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was previously, and
has also lived and worked in Botswana and South Africa.
bright skies and open spaces of the African plains have been her
inspiration and are featured in many of her acrylic paintings in a style
she describes as “contemporary” and borne out of her experiences and
only took up painting seriously a year ago, having previously just dabbled
with ideas. She attended a number of courses run by renowned artist Nicola
Slattery and was struck by her style and originality.
found that I enjoyed working with like-minded people and I suddenly
realised how much I enjoyed telling stories through my art,” she said.
Jo, who paints under her maiden name of Jocelyn Jacobson as a tribute to
her parents who encouraged her artistic nature, is gearing up for the
first exhibition. She will be opening her home and studio to visitors in
May as part of the Norwich Festival.
stories come from her heart. Some feature episodes and acquaintances from
her own life and others from national events that have touched her such as
the heart-rending murders of Victoria Climbie and Damilola Taylor.
Most of her paintings, however, feature her native Africa.
parents came from Manchester and Glasgow and moved to Zimbabwe to seek out
a new life on a tobacco farm. After leaving school, Jo spent over three
years hitching around Europe, including a year in the United Kingdom
before returning to Zimbabwe where she was a tour guide at the Victoria
moved to Salisbury (now Harare) where she and Rob were married and for the
next 10 years she worked in the import/export business. Meanwhile husband
Rob studied towards his Chartered Accountant exams despite being in the
territorial army where he was expected to spend six weeks in the army and
six weeks working as an articled clerk with a firm in Salisbury (Harare).
Eventually they emigrated to South Africa for 5 years and then to
Botswana for 10 years after which the Cole’s decided to make a
life-changing move to England with their 2 young children.
wanted to give our children stability and Africa wasn’t a very stable
place. Our Zimbabwe passports had been taken away by the Mugabe regime and
our work permits for South Africa were due to run out and Botswana only
dealt in two year contracts,” Jo said.
they travelled to the Manchester area and lived at Southport where they
November 1997 Rob found a job with Norwich Union and for the last 10 years
they have lived in Hethersett.
undertook a creative textile course at Norwich City College and also art
lessons with well known Hethersett artist Jean Larner.
struggled with watercolours and Jean suggested I try acrylics. I wasn’t
happy with what I was doing but found the new medium much more to my
then took a course in Life Coaching which she says helped to put things in
perspective and concentrate her mind on what she wanted to achieve. Now
she is full of ideas and looking to sell her colourful work: “I would
love to see my work hanging on people’s walls.”
paint from my emotions and most of my paintings tell their own story.
Africa is still in my blood. I’m sure at some point I will paint British
scenes and tell British stories. That will be the next step on my artistic
journey,” she said.