ALONG THE SAME SHORES WHERE IAN FLEMING DREAMED UP HIS ICONIC JAMES BOND, A LONDON-BASED PAINTER RETREATS TO AN OPEN-AIR VILLA TO CHASE HER MUSE
Painter Pauline Amos follows in Ian Fleming’s footsteps, finding her ultimate muse in a tree-shaded Jamaica compound with views of the Caribbean Sea.
TWO OR THREE MONTHS of every year, British artist Pauline Amos ducks out of the gray London winter and heads for her Jamaican villa tucked into a grove of Moringa and banana trees. It’s a nine-hour trip from Gatwick Airport to Kingston, and then a quick flight to the tiny Ian Fleming International Airport 10 minutes from her door. But the layover, if you can call it that, is more than a pass-through. Amos has a favorite art shop in Kingston, and it’s only after she pops in to stock up on paints and locally made canvases that she is ready for her sojourn along the Caribbean Sea.
“When I get to my house, the scenery, the foliage, the intensity of colors—I just want to capture it all and paint it,” says Amos, whose multimedia work ranges from oil abstracts to performance and audio pieces. “The water is a beautiful turquoise, and it goes right into my paintings. I record the sounds of Jamaica, with
its storms, its amazing thunderclaps, and the music of the sea. Everything on this island becomes a part of my art.”
It’s little wonder the spirit of Jamaica has seeped under Amos’s skin and into her work. The north coast of this colorful island 90 miles south of Cuba has long been a magnet for artists. Notables like actor/playwright Noël Coward and painter Lucian Freud have traipsed its white-sand beaches and taken in its teal waters. Amos’s house itself has a sizable creative pedigree; it’s located on the grounds of the legendary GoldenEye resort, a property pioneered by the late British author Ian Fleming in the 1950s (after he bought a former donkey racetrack in the small banana port town of Oracabessa, Jamaica). It’s here that Fleming built a simple, open-air house with enormous windows where he liked to sit and gaze out at the sea. And it’s here that he dreamed up the suave and ruthless James Bond character and wrote the series of stylish spy thrillers that made both of them household names.
Amos’s villa was one of several built in the 1990s as extensions of Fleming ’s former home. Constructed of polished concrete block, ochrecolored stone, and wood, the home sits on a bluff that rises some 20 feet above the water. It’s a sublime perch, one she only discovered when a broken arm left her unable to paint. “London
Amos carved out a 10-foot shuttered window to give the living area a broader view of the sea. The hats and rug were crafted by local straw artisans.
Right: Local treasures such as Blackwell rum, fresh limes, and poinciana blooms light up every corner of the villa. Below: The bamboo-walled entry to Amos’s villa, Strangeways, inspired by the name of a secret agent in Fleming’s Dr. No.
The petite kitchen conveys simple, elemental beauty with concrete countertops and teak windows.