The artist's open houses
Art flow exhibits in Lewes

Jill Emslie, pilot and artist extraordinaire

One of the reasons  why I really appreciate England is the attitude to life of that special breed of not so young in years, be they men or women!  I really do! You will not see them in dark, post war M&S garments, clearly re-laundered for the 150th time, or as prisoners of their jobs and homes, or completely subordinating their lives to their children, nor talking about all those sacrifices, or about how life was - as if that was it more discoveries, nothing enjoyable to look forward to other than the arrival and raising of lovely grandchildren. The world I left behind over the water and a bit further on still plays by these unwritten rules. That was the world I left behind!

My theme today is about embracing change, pushing your boundaries, experimenting, still making things happen ..........doing all of this and more, with a smile that says so much about attitude. So let me introduce you to one Jill, amazing Jill Emslie! But before eulogising, first let me ask you what was your dream as a child? Was it to become a fireman, or doctor, or singer, or writer, or maybe architect or ...........

As a tiny child during the second world war,  Jill would look at the dark, foreboding London summer skies , longingly following with eager eyes those Spitfires weaving and rushing bravely to unknown battle, fighting with an awesome growl for a peace that some would say was too much to achieve. Her imagination had no limits! In her mind, she invented stories about the brave pilots, their lives and how it must feel to look at the beautiful planet Earth from the cockpit of a plane. She dreamed about being one of them .......of flying and piloting those amazing machines.

An unexpected trip to the Shoreham museum ( for information about the museum click led her to fulfill this dream. Even if it took Jill almost 50 years to reach this dream  let me tell you that .... yes ..... she did it, she embodies the qualities of that breed. Although it is not a Spitfire, Jill speaks with great love about the Cessna airplanes that became her friends , that joined her in her many air adventures. 

Flying across the English countryside had a big impact on the way Jill paints, on the way she sees and interprets landscapes. Yes, Jill is a very talented painter as well. She picked up paint brushes almost at the same time, and started painting about 20 odd years ago.  It all started with joining the Eastbourne College of Art and Technology (now known as Southdown College) and doing a diploma in Fine Art.

As a young artist, I couldn't resist asking Jill how does she paint, where do the ideas come to her mind.

" I hit the canvas with a complete blank mind and start adding layers to layers. For me it is like a walk in a new park. It can be a lovely surprise or a complete disappointment."

In her own words, Jill told me that she is inspired  by big historical moments it was in the case of the Gulf wars, the Romanian revolution, or 9/11. Now she is in the middle of expressing on canvas the emotions of the Arab revolution. In the upcoming exhibition in August (5-11th) at the Lansdown Gallery in Lewes visitors might see her completed 9/11 picture. 135

Because of her flying experiences skies, clouds have a completely different meaning. They have a personality, they  have distinctive smells, textures ....... they can be fluffy and white and light and also black and gloomy and sticky like glue!

Art gave Jill an intense sense of excitement, creating something that makes her feel proud, in a studio that insulates her from a competitive environment (not that she would ever join being there)!


You can meet Jill and enjoy her art in August  together with other members of Artflow.  Artflow is a recently formed group of semi professional artists living and working in the Sussex region. The members of the group also exhibit individually and with other groups and galleries. For more information visit



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