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A sense of pride

“When I walk in here I get the sense of The Bahamas; I get a sense of pride,”said ceramicist Jessica Colebrooke while on the new second floor of the Marlborough Street McDonald’s on a recent busy morning.

Colebrooke, who creates souvenirs and fine art pieces through her company, Jessica’s Tileworks, is largely responsible for the sense of pride she gets on entering the fast food restaurant these days. The establishment’s re-vamped interior décor features a series of her cultural tile mosaics.

While Bahamian life teems outside of its doors, similar scenes usher a burst of native color indoors. A tribute to marine life greets customers who enter the downtown McDonald’s in Colebrooke’s Junkanoo twist on the spiny lobster, Nassau grouper and red snapper. Upstairs, the artist channels the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades with tile portraits of vibrant Junkanooers a-lit in their famously vivid colors.

“Every New Year’s and Boxing Day that’s what resonates on Bay Street so we wanted to bring that flavor, we wanted to bring that feel here in the restaurant,”she said.”We wanted to give just the feel, the rhythm of who we are as a people.”

Since signing on to McDonald’s re-imaging project last summer, the artist has spent months burrowing deeper into the rhythms of her country. Colebrooke submitted a series of sketches to be approved locally and internationally by the restaurant chain. She derives much of her pride in the project from the creative license the company granted her in generating the images.

“How rarely do you get that artistic license with a franchise?And you’re being paid, so it worked out very well for all of us,”said Colebrooke.”For me that was the reward, that you can actually express yourself, who you are as a Bahamian.”

McDonald’s issued a statement on its months-long re-imaging project, and its selection of Colebrooke as the artist for the interior artwork. The local franchise had to get the approval of its Regional and Corporate offices as well as the Downtown Revitalization Committee to make changes to its façade and the inside of the restaurant.

“We were fortunate to have our very own Jessica Colebroke,”said the statement.”Her creativity has created quite a buzz locally and in the McDonald’s Regional and Corporate offices.”

Pleased with the results of the process, Colebrooke sees her recent partnership with McDonald’s as a gateway to similar endeavors with other businesses and artists, particularly in the downtown area.

Last year saw the successful launch of the”Love My Bahamas”mural campaign, where the Downtown Nassau Partnership and Coca Cola teamed up with artists to create works throughout the district. Colebrooke would like to see more initiatives that feature the works of local artists in the interior design of area businesses as well.

“There are hundreds of artists here in this country that are world class and have produced excellent pieces of work, and it’s just all a matter of the right opportunity to showcase those pieces,”she said.

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