“My name is Mary in Gaelic. My dad, Tommy Hawkins, was from East Whitburn in Scotland. It’s a teeny place, between Edinburgh and Glasgow. But I was born in Portsmouth so my grandparents called me a ‘sasanach’, as I didn’t have a Scottish accent. My dad travelled all over the country with his work, he was a big band leader. So we’ve lived anywhere there is a Mecca Ballroom, more or less!
“I first remember drawing when I was about four or five. I was very pleased with a picture that I had done of a hem of a crinoline dress. I spent hours on it, licking my pencils and trying out different ways to make good effects. I suppose you would say that I have a natural flair for art. As I grew up I became more and more passionate about art. I credit my dad with inspiring me to look at things properly. He would ask me to look for the colours in a tree. And then after I had given him the simple, obvious answer that it was green or brown he would ask me to look again, and then I would see the other colours there.
“I’ve learnt my techniques through experimentation, through reading books and trying out ideas. We didn’t have the internet back when I was a teenager so I read a lot of books. It was expensive to use some of the materials you need so I found ways to use cheaper things to get the same results. I love passing on my skills and ideas to other people. You have to be inventive as an artist and have the passion to try out new ways. You shouldn’t get hung up on the rules. Michelangelo is my hero; he didn’t care about showing off or the fame that went with being an Old Master. He was an incredible man. He was almost a hermit, he lived for his work. He was humble; he knew his craft and produced some incredible, timeless work.
“After school I flunked out of college where I was studying History of Art, and got a job as a ticket writer in Selfridges. I was working with the old boys who used to do the hand painted Odeon cinema posters and they taught me how to use a Maseely Press. From London I went to Brighton which to me was the centre of the world for art. It was a very colourful ‘scene’. I hung out with artists and students and got a job working through the night in a casino. It felt as if I had found myself. It made me realise that I wasn’t suited to the 9 to 5 life. My boyfriend and I opened a stained glass studio where we specialised in art deco painted mirrors and terrariums, they were a huge success. But when our relationship ended in 1991 Brighton just felt too small for the both of us, so I decided to move. I’d always wanted to live in Spain after an amazing family holiday we had had in San Jose in the early eighties. I loved the place, the food, and the people. It is such a beautiful memory for me as I felt as if I had come home, I loved the feeling of the importance of family and how everyone belonged. I had never had that feeling at home I suppose because we were always on the move. So I decided I wanted to try out living in Spain and came to Majorca.
“When I first arrived here I would sit on a park bench in Palma Nova and sketch. People passing by would stop and look over my shoulder. I love to get reactions to my work; it’s magical when I can evoke a reaction. Sometimes people don’t like what I do but I don’t mind, I want to provoke a response, either way. My dad wanted me to be musical, but I prefer art. With a piece of music once it is played it is lost in the moment, a painting is there forever.
“Word got out that I could draw and I started to get work doing the odd decorating or signwriting job. Around that time I met my first husband Steve who was in yachting. I started to work as a stewardess on board a boat and got introduced to a British interior decorator, John Tanner, who was working on the Santa Ponca Golf development. When John said that he wanted to meet me I quickly read up on everything I could find about interior decorating and bluffed my way through the interview! I got the job to paint the show house which I did at weekends and at night, working around my stewie job. The results were fantastic and turned out to be my lucky break. The owners of the boat that I was working on went to see the show house when it was finished and loved it and the art work inside of it. They asked who the artist was and were staggered when they were told it was me! Their stewardess. I stayed on with them for several years as their artist in residence.
“Now I paint privately for clients: whatever subject they want and in whatever style they want. I’m not your stereotypical painter though, I’m not splattered in paint, and I like to keep my nails nice. I am pretty well known for my murals. I love all forms of art but there’s something about Trompe l’Oeil that gives me a special thrill. I love the tongue in cheek trickery that makes you question what you are viewing. Sometimes I paint my clients into the murals, or at least an element of them, their eyes for example. I love breaking the perimeters of what people believe is possible, I like my kids to see that you can do whatever you want to do, you should follow your heart. Art is so important, it’s like the salt and pepper of life, everything’s bland without it”.