Frances “Peggy” Jones has been expressing herself with acrylic paints since 1967, when she emigrated to The Bahamas and became comfortable with painting as an amateur artist. Without any formal instruction or classes, she became acquainted with the medium by convening with other women in Nassau who shared similar interests. They frequently met to share information on their passions, preoccupations and affections.
Most of Peggy’s inspiration comes from scenes readily available in our very special Bahamas: vistas including beaches, coves and historical and iconic buildings on New Providence. Many of the sights represented in this collection are familiar to a Bahamian audience, taking into consideration Nassau’s downtown area, including Historic Charles Towne, as well as scenes from the Out Islands that were photographed by Peggy’s husband, Roger.
For this exhibition, we have decided to hang in a salon-style the beautiful, azure and crystal clear waters and seascapes that surround New Providence, a view that was common for Peggy from her home at Sulgrave Manor, which now stands in the shadow of Baha Mar on the Cable Beach strip.
Iconic streets, buildings and people come into sharp focus as her, at times, carefree and whimsy brushstroke and ease of warm and cool colours, radiate across each scene. We see at once an old Nassau - filled with a certain kind of nostalgia and sentimentality- while we view all of the iconic spaces that have changed during the post-independence era. While there is some romance in the formalism and her gaze, these paintings hold much more magic.
For instance, an uncanny moment emerges here with Peggy’s rendering of Balcony House - one of the oldest and most famous historic houses in Nassau- also represented by Jacob Coonley’s “Untitled (Balcony House on Market Street)” (ca. 1920) just on the outside of this exhibit. The work, of course, retains its connection to the personal as we see in The Royal Victoria Hotel (1996), which was built in 1861 during the U.S.Civil War. Peggy and Roger with their young firstborn Rod stayed at the hotel during their first week in Nassau after moving from the US in 1955.
Also, keeping in line with the formalism that many painters hold, Peggy drew a lot of references and ideas from photography and in particular historical images and touristic publications to find inspiration. Paintings like “Sunday- Abaco” and “Lady coming up Fox Hill Road” (not shown) employ this, while “The Narrows- Nassau” (1984) shows the deepest blue sea and the things that we often lose when we oversimplify our landscapes and reduce it to a thing of beauty only. Here we see swathes of aquamarine, deep blues, indigos and luscious clouds that cover the area that separates Paradise Island from Athol Island, with Treasure Island peeking through in the background. It is poetry stilled for us to contemplate. Peggy who turned 89 earlier this month shares a vision that we can all celebrate, reminisce on and contemplate as we continue to watch our Bahamas, like the weather, change.
The artist Frances Taylor Jones, (known as Peggy), was born in Cleveland, Ohio January 6, 1929. She attended the Laurel School in Cleveland; Chatham Hall, a boarding school in Virginia; and Mills College in California. She married Roger Jones in Cleveland in 1953, and they moved from Cleveland to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1954 and Nassau, The Bahamas in 1955.
Soon after arriving in Nassau, Peggy became very involved in the community, her children's school and church activities. Among her numerous Bahamian involvements, she was co-founding Director of the “Yellowbirds Volunteer Auxiliary” established in November 1966 as an invaluable partner of the Princess Margaret Hospital and continues to be a vibrant and ever-increasing body of concerned citizens committed to supporting the hospital in a wide variety of ways.
Peggy was one of the first two women to be elected an elder at “The Kirk”– the Scottish Presbyterian Church in The Bahamas founded in 1810. Reflecting Peggy’s extensive volunteer activities in the Bahamas, on the Queen’s birthday list in 1997, Peggy was made an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.