I was born and raised in West Hampstead, London, one of four girls. My father,  the late Cyril Hamersma, a prolific and eccentric artist, was exhibiting in London during the 1950’s when I was a young girl. Both of my parents were creative and the large Victorian terraced house, in which our family inhabited the  ground floor, was a hive of activity. My father’s oil-paintings covered the walls and were quite hazardous as the oil paint was invariably still wet! Classical music could usually be heard blasting out when my father was at work in his studio – which should have been our lounge. It had a bay window and therefore plenty of light. Frequent visitors came to the house including gallery owners, reporters taking interviews and artists. My mother always wanted to move to the country. I remember how life on a farm or in the countryside or by the sea always seemed such a dream to her; she even saved up the ‘country soil’ from the new potatoes bought at the market and added it to our poor black London soil.

We moved out of the city to Sussex when I was eleven.  The sea was at the end of the road and we had a huge garden. My mother’s dream come true! It was here I began to enjoy gardening and collected pets –  our family dog, who came with us from London, put up with them all. But my parents weren’t so keen on the animals.Vase of colour

My father’s work developed from being vivid and expressionistic – reminiscent of Van Gogh to abstract. He was influenced by the Dutch artist Mondrian.   This was when he first produced a number of a geometric abstract works – squares reflecting colour from each other, going on to  use texture and relief and incorporating materials other than paint into his work such as fabric, tin-foil, & beads.  I can see where my love of textiles, and making mosaics came from. I also look for materials among oddments that would normally be thrown away and I’m always keen to make use of recycled rubbish. later, my father appeared on Channel 4 describing his ‘KERB SCAPES’ which were three dimensional pieces representing small sections of gutters in the street – with cigarette ends, litter, etc., making the point that many of us pass scenes like this everyday in the town and don’t notice them. But even though he enjoyed making the sculptures, his drawing skills were plain to see.

Cafe & coupleSt. Christopher's Sketch
Still painting in the 1980’s, he began branching out – inventing what he called “The Squircle”. This was a square/circle which was a comment, I think, on the forces of good and evil. He began exploring environmental and social issues and translating these ideas into work which ultimately became quite outrageous. He was a very religious man, a devout Christian, and much of his later work reflected his concern for the homeless, the poor and disadvantaged, although his generous sense of humour always shone through. It was easy not to take him seriously, since he approached all his subjects with a larger than life attitude. But beneath all the laughter, the relentless hard work and endless creativity, was a genuine and sincere artist.

After a few years in Sussex we moved house again to a new estate in Essex. This was rather a shock to the system for me  –  hardly any garden, close neighbours and nowhere near the sea. My father’s studio became one of the garages in a block of five on the estate. From here, once he had installed a large window on the back wall, the loud music and the painting continued. After a few more years, it was goodbye to Essex when my parents  bought a tiny fisherman’s cottage in St. Ives, Cornwall. The artists’ community, the sea, the light and the wonderful landscape embraced us all. It was enchanting.


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