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Joseph Hodge: The Artist Behind the Cover by Mar Javierto

by Yello May 25, 2022

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Artist Joseph Hodge
Photo credit: Mar Javierto

Joseph Hodge was born in Curaçao to a Tolan mother and Anguilla father who moved to the Virgin Islands when he was an infant. Growing up, Joseph found his maternal grandmother to be a source of practical life wisdom. Grateful for that experience and noting how different things are today, he lamented: “The youth of today are dressed up excellent, but they lack life knowledge.” 

Joseph’s inclination for the arts, specifically painting, came from his father’s side. His father, though a diver by profession, was also a painter. Following in his father’s vein, at college, Joseph began to focus on painting whilst also studying various subjects, “I lived off of painting”, he stated proudly of that period. Later, in 1972 he held his first exhibition. Throughout the years, he’s participated in numerous shows in St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, St Marten, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands. 

Outspoken but reclusive, the artist possesses a wealth of knowledge. A former portrait artist at the magistrates’ court, Joseph’s work was incomparable. He noted, “Nobody else could do it in Tortola, so they came to me. People always come to me for difficult jobs. I am their artist of last resort.”

The artist is a voracious reader with a great love of history; more than that, a history that reflects his experience. This passion for history and its relevancy began at a young age. Joseph recalled a childhood incident in which he asked his teacher why she was teaching the class about Robinson Crusoe and not about black people’s history.

Many years later, his fondness for the past and desire to discuss relevant experiences is evident in the painting that graces the British Virgin Islands 2021 telephone directory cover. 

BVI Telephone Directory Cover
Painting by Joseph Hodge

The untitled painting depicts an actual scene of a man herding his cows through Main Street in Tortola. “Farmers would walk their cattle from the mountains down to Main Street to sell to sea merchants,” Joseph reminisced, “the process would take at least two days depending on how far away the farmer lived.” Joseph would watch the farmers do this whenever a ship was docked. 

One among a few living BVI national artists, Joseph teaches painting and is proud of his past students who continue to practice the art. Why? Because for the painter, “art is not a vocation. It’s a way of life”.

The public can view Joseph’s stunning paintings at josephhodgeartwork.webs.com and on Instagram.

Joseph’s painting makes this year’s directory a keepsake. Be sure to grab your copy today!