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Interview with Hannah Jarmain, artist

By Gregory Gunter

Hannah Jarmain, Toller Craston, Donna Parker, Andrew Osta

After serving as the Host Auctioneer for the Hannah Jarmain-organized Rosewood art auction, we interviewed Hannah Jarmain in her role as artist for the current exhibition “Toller Cranston & Influences” at the Toller Cranston Art Gallery, Sollano 84.

Toller Cranston and influences
Thu, Apr 3, 5pm
Sollano 84

Gregory Gunter: Hannah, you have been painting in the same studio with Toller Cranston for months, tell us about your experience?

Hannah Jarmain: Well, you might as well ask- What was it like going to the center of the Earth?

I can honestly say it was hot, tumultuous and verging on madness! And that was just the first month. When I first started to paint in his studio, Toller was going through a rather unnerving time, having to prepare for a big show in Canada in November, and faced with custom delays and unmet promises. All of which caused him to be roaring mad and pulling his hair out.  He eventually sailed through all these, met his deadline and made a fantastic appearance and a successful weekend show for his fans in Calgary. After that we focused on the task at hand which is to paint well and create great work. Some of which were sold, still fresh, to touring art lovers.

GG: How did you and Toller get together?

HJ: I was a neglecting artist, I neglected my own art for four years while I built the Children’s Art Foundation. All my waking time was devoted to the Children’s Art Foundation program.  I “met” Toller in one of the artist museum visits I did with Alan Love, Rosewood P.R director, and we talked about the Children’s Art Foundation. Toller suggested several great ideas for the kids program and even invited them to paint the famous ostrich eggs with him in his spacious studio. We sold several of these eggs at the auction and gave the kids their money. But out of our working together there came trust and respect, so Toller said to me one day: Why don’t you come here to paint!

That was the most significant turn of events for my art career. I needed a bright studio to paint as my home studio has been transformed into a storage space for kids art activities and school supplies, so I accepted Toller’s offer. It was the best art studio I have ever seen, spacious and filled with bright natural light, great music and stimulating conversations.

GG: And Toller’s fame and eccentricity. How did you deal with that?

HJ: We talked about the artists we admired in the history of art. We talked about the museums of the world. Toller has a photographic memory so he remembers vividly the details of everything, such as which painting was on which floor in which museum. Talking about eccentricity here is a Toller story:

One day I said to Toller: “You know being gay actually is a real plus. Look at the genius in art history: Leonardo da Vinci, besides being a genius in many disciplines, art, sciences, and an inventor, he was also a flamboyant gay, always had a good looking young man in tow. With his great talents, good looks and beautiful clothes he used to command such respect from kings and queens of the world. Toller said: “Yes! But he can’t skate!”

GG: Where are you Hannah Jarmain going with your art?

HJ: I want to thank Toller for his help and for having unstuck my creativity. The first day in his studio I sat in front of the blank canvas, my mind was just a blank. Toller suggested: “Paint what you see with your third eye.”  I said spontaneously: “My parent’s wedding!”

That how “Leaving Home” was created! It was then followed by the series of 10 paintings about Vietnam, an emotional subject which is now on my website. I had a dramatic childhood due to the memories of my parents and family loss during the “American” war, by expressing them through the first series of Vietnam paintings I feel free to create other themes that vibrate in me My ultimate dream is to have an exhibit in Paris with my uncle Pham Tang, the famous artist painter who brought the UNESCO first art prize home in 1967 to the little country called Vietnam. My uncle is 88 now, living in Paris, but still very fit, very passionate and very charismatic. He writes poems daily and reads them to me sometime over the telephone across the Atlantic. He won’t live forever so we must plan for that exhibit sometime soon. You and all my friends will get an invitation to Paris.

For San Miguel art lovers, be in the moment and meet Hannah Jarmain, who has spent 150 days painting in Toller Cranston’s studio . Hannah Jarmain is the featured artist in the major art exhibit at Toller Cranston Art Gallery. Through her interpretation of life and happiness, Jarmain let the viewer feel the vibration of a pure sky, the lightness of air, imaginative flowers and a peek of her incredible past. Her recent work is available on the website:


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