Spiralling into Control

Barbados-based artist Sian Pampellonne paints with an intense emotion that produces brightly-coloured canvasses which are both bold and beautiful. The grand-daughter and protégé of renowned Bajan painter Gordon Parkinson, Sian comes from a family with strong artistic leanings. As a child, she was encouraged to express her emotions through painting, an exercise that she continues in her artwork today. “I’ve been painting since as far back as I can remember,” she says. “Whenever I was upset or angry, my grandfather showed me how to translate those feelings into pictures.”

Although born in Trinidad, Sian moved with her mother to Barbados at six years old. She studied art and then mass communication in the United States, going on to work as a graphic designer in Atlanta before moving back to Trinidad. In 2004, she relocated to live permanently in Barbados, opening her own design studio, Sian in Design Inc. Throughout the following decade, however, there was little time for painting while she concentrated on making the business a success.

Around four years ago, Sian took up her paintbrush in earnest once more, and has since then been painting prolifically in a studio at her home in Christ Church.

“During the last few years it’s become very important to me to go back to where I started in my grandfather’s studio. I was prompted to start painting again when going through a difficult situation I couldn’t see the way out of,” says Sian. “For me, painting is the only way to process my thoughts and feelings without outside influences. It gives me a feeling of clarity and peace.” The themes which emerge in her pieces reflect the life circumstances being experienced at the time of painting, as she is compelled to convey her emotions via brushstrokes.There are sunsets and stormy seas as well as animals and flowers among the melange of subjects that Sian captures on canvas.

Spirals are also a recurrent theme in much of her work, as are octopus tentacles. “The pull towards this imagery has to do with flow and ease of movement,” she says. “I’m drawn to spirals, and tentacles are an extension of that; it’s a ‘letting-go’ process, a transition from one thought-process to another.” Faces are also among Sian’s favourite subject matters to paint, particularly the eyes. “You can’t hide emotion in the eyes,” she says.Created using acrylics and mixed media, her artwork has a striking colour palette, with deep, vibrant hues.“I don’t choose the colours, the colours choose me,” says Sian, who intends her art to provoke thought and self-reflection in those by whom it’s viewed.

Sian beholds art in everything she sees around her, no matter how mundane, incorporating those visions into her work. The resulting paintings are infused with energy and lots of texture. In addition to canvasses, Sian has been developing a range of merchandise that features her art.

Throw pillows are already available and this summer Sian is launching a new line of wearable merchandise and stationery. “Not everybody has the space or budget for large original paintings, so the merchandise is a means to bring art into your home in a fun, subtle way,” she says. Sian sells her paintings mainly through galleries in Barbados and Trinidad, but offers viewings by appointment at her studio. Her artwork, including the merchandise, can also be purchased online through her website sianpampellonne.com

In 2016, Sian received the fine arts bronze award from the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados, an honour she is thrilled to have been given in her home-island. I love receiving photos of my work hanging in all parts of the world, knowing someone loved it enough to buy it and take it there, often to countries I have never visited,” she says. “It’s such an honour.” When not painting in the studio or busy at her advertising business, Sian can be found in her garden with her beloved dog Zeus.

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