The Power of Art – Bermuda National Gallery

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The Power of Art  by Lisa Howie, Director, Bermuda National Gallery

Bermuda National Gallery celebrates 25 years in 2017.  To express our history while staying committed to present goals, we created an exhibition that unpacks The Power of Art. The artwork is curated by section, each space having a thematic focus: activism; environmental protection; ideas of influence; humanities’ strength in diversity; representation of women artists; and, in the children’s gallery, creativity.  Juxtaposition of historical and contemporary artwork from the permanent collection is augmented with loans of art.

Art has the power to bring people together and move past barriers that exist outside of the museum space.  Former First Lady Michelle Obama expresses this best:“The arts and humanities define who we are as a people.  That is their power — to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common. To help us understand our history and imagine our future.  To give us hope in the moments of struggle and to bring us together when nothing else will.”

Bill Ming, Bermudian, b. 1944, Hands Across Da Table, 2008/9, mixed media. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

Bill Ming pursued his interest in art at Maidstone College of Art, Kent, UK, in 1979, ultimately making Nottinghamshire his home.  He is the first holder of the Liverpool John Moore’s University Fellowship in Sculpture (1993) and he had his first solo exhibition at Bermuda National Gallery (1994).  He has exhibited his work widely. “Hands Across the Table” speaks to a prevalent theme in Ming’s work, of oppression and injustice, even though the symbolism and emotional imagery offer no simplistic answer.

Alan C. Smith, Bermudian, b.1965, Self Portrait, 2007, digital photograph.  Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.
Alan C. Smith is a poet, performer, and visual artist whose artwork tends to have autobiographical elements. In this digital photographic reconstruction he uses the language of the landscape to articulate his self-portrait. This image was used for the cover of Bermuda National Gallery: An Introduction, in order to convey simultaneously a sense of identity and place.

Meredith Andrews, Bermudian/American, b.1976, Ajani – Bermuda, 2012, resin monochrome print.  Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

This artwork was created in response to the 2016 Bermuda Biennial theme, A View From The Edge. This photograph is taken from a series of portraits of young people on the edge: the edge of adulthood, the edge of opportunity, and the edge of life’s challenges.

Meredith Andrews, Bermudian, b.1976, Johny, 2008, digital photograph. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.
Portrait and documentary photographer, Meredith Andrews work has been exhibited widely, including London’s National Portrait Gallery, The Photographer’s Gallery, and the 2002 through 2010, 2014 and 2016 Bermuda Biennials. Andrews’s images are carefully composed, with her sitters wearing particular outfits and surrounded by specific objects, in order to convey individual identities and interpersonal relationships.  These compositions reflect on contemporary society and the universality of the new age family, one that may be unpredictable and unstable, yet strong in its own right.

Jacqueline Alma, Dutch/South African, b.1965, Shallow Waters, 2011, oil on linen. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.
Jacqueline Alma is a portrait artist who is sensitive to society’s prejudices and misconceptions. Although a trained Graphic Designer, Alma graduated with a Post Graduate in Portraiture from Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, London, UK in 2004. Since then she has continued to paint portraits of individuals that symbolize a particular truth or message that she wants to convey.

Richard Saunders, Bermudian, 1922-1987, Members of the 4-C Club listening to instructor, Upper Volta, 1972, silver print.  Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

Richard Saunders studied in New York in the 1940s. He was inspired by American film director Gordon Parks and travelled extensively as a photojournalist for Ebony, Life, The New York Times, Look, Fortune, Time, and others.  Featured in the 1953 Museum of Modern Art exhibition Always the Young Strangers, organised by Edward Steichen, Saunders received the International Black Photographer’s Award in 1982 and the United States Information Services Honor Award in 1986.  New York’s prestigious Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is the custodian of twenty years of photographs taken by Saunders for the magazine Topic. This un-staged photograph, captured with a telephoto lens, is characteristic of Saunders’ style of visual rhythms and his interest in authentic human experiences.

Henry Liam Ward, British, b.1971, Bermuda Man, 1999, oil on canvas.  Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

Henry Ward is a portrait and figurative painter who graduated with an MFA from Goldsmith’s College, London. In 2010 he was featured in the prestigious National BP Portrait Award, a The National Portrait Gallery in London. Most recently, he completed a monumental portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the Queen’s six decades as patron of the British Red Cross.  Ward’s work continues the tradition of capturing historical moments while communicating important contemporary messages. His style and interest in social commentary is effectively communicated in this piece.

Peter Woolcock, British/ Argentinian, 1926 – 2014, Self Portrait, c.1980s, pen and ink.  Collection of Mike Hind.
Peter Woolcock was a self-taught artist best known in Bermuda for his political cartoons.  His weekly political cartoons were chronicled in an annual publication entitled The Woppened Series.  His passion, however, was to create imaginative worlds and playful experiences for children.  His illustrations can be found in two local children’s books written by Andrew Stevenson: The Turtle who ate a Balloon and The Adventures of Bermuda’s Toad with One Eye.

Georgine Hill, Bermudian, 1918 -2014, Lucy Davis, c.1950, oil on canvas.  Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

Georgine Hill, MBE, an artist and social activist, arrived in Bermuda in 1941 after studying art at the Massachusetts College of Art.  Early on, she met Canadian sculptor Byllee Lang, an influential artist and teacher who broke down racial barriers. Lang’s studio was the first art studio in Bermuda where blacks and whites could create together in an integrated space. In 1947, Hill was among a community of artists who formed Bermuda’s first Art Association, held at the Hamilton Hotel, the the site that is now City Hall.

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The Power of Art – Bermuda National Gallery