We recently welcomed U.S. Consul General Grissette to the gallery for a private tour led by Bermuda National Gallery Executive Director Peter Lapsley and Chairman Gary Phillips.⠀
She explored our current exhibitions: Illusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape (above), I Am Because You Are by Gherdai Hassell (below), The Shadow Land: Cape Dorset Prints from the Bacardi Collection, In Dark Seas: Swimming with Sea Butterflies and A Source of Inspiration: St George’s Through the BNG Collection.
We have been hard at work behind the scenes at the gallery and are pleased to now have a total of 5 exhibitions on display. In Dark Seas: Swimming with Sea Butterflies is our newest exhibition, now open in the BNG Project Space and produced in collaboration with BIOS.
If you haven’t yet seen Gherdai Hassell’s first solo exhibition,I Am Because You Are, we urge you to do so. It is a unique experience, and the show, which is currently on display in the Watlington Room, will be closing at the end of September.
On display in the Humann and Young Galleries through to October is Illusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape, which examines the ways in which artists, both contemporary and historical, have both faithfully translated and refracted the landscape.
Finally, don’t forget to pop into the Par-La-Ville Sculpture Park, a joint project between BNG and the Corporation of Hamilton, situated in the Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Hamilton. There are a number of artworks on display throughout the grounds, which form part of Bermuda’s National Sculpture Collection.
Admission is $5 for adults, free for BNG members, seniors, students and NARM members.
We are pleased to open the BNG Project Space with a new exhibition produced in collaboration with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS).
Recognizing that art and science are two parts of the same human drive to know and to understand, In Dark Seas: Swimming With Sea Butterflies presents a selection of artworks produced as part of on-ongoing research projects into pteropods (a type of ocean-dwelling snail) and copepods (tiny aquatic crustaceans) led by scientists Dr Amy Maas and Dr Leocadio Blanco-Bercial.
Between 2017 and 2019 BIOSworked with artists Lesli Bell and Samm Newton — each with a different background and preferred artistic medium — on the project. The resulting artworks, on display at BNG through to October,remind us how art can be used to more deeply appreciate our place on this planet and the processes that connect each of us to it.
Mitchell Klink quickly immersed himself in Bermuda’s art scene after moving to the island, joining the board of the Bermuda National Gallery 6 months later. Having spent over 10 years at Atlanta’s High Museum, where he led docent tours and gave talks, Mitchell joined BNG with a focus on visitor experience, arts education and strategic planning, culminating in the curation of Illusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape.
With a full-time role as a consultant at Ernst & Young, Mitchell dedicates much of his spare time to the gallery, supporting board meetings and gallery events and leading engaging and insightful tours for visitors on Saturdays.
We caught up with Mitchell to discuss how, as a boy, a fascination with Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile Series led to a passion for the arts, what it was like to curate an exhibition of this scale for the first time and why, for him, the local arts community has been a highlight of his Bermuda experience.
BNG: How much did you know about the local art scene before moving to Bermuda and what is your impression of it today?
MK: I wasn’t familiar with the local art scene before deciding to move to Bermuda. On my first visit, David Brown took me to an event at Masterworks, where he is a board member. David’s generosity, and the Bermuda arts community I met there and since have been a highlight of my Bermuda experience. Bermuda has a long history of great collectors, artists, and institutions. But we cannot take this for granted — the arts are always a fragile ecosystem, supported by contribution of caretakers.
BNG: You spent over 10 years at the High Museum in Atlanta, where you volunteered in the docent programme and gave tours and talks. Could you please tell us a bit about your experience there?
MK:The High has 140 docent volunteers giving over 3000 tours a year – more than 80% of the tours and volunteers focus on weekday school groups. As a working professional, my volunteer availability is evenings and weekends, and I primarily gave tours and talks with adult visitors. We trained and used varied techniques – curriculum-related, visual thinking strategies, games, slow looking – to offer variety.
I created formats and programs to appeal to young adults, casual visitors, and corporate event attendees – people who want an experience that makes the art approachable, provides information and perspective, and doesn’t require the commitment of a full tour.
BNG: Your role as a trustee at BNG combines your strategic thinking and professional experience with your passion for art. Could you please tell us a little bit about your role on the board?
MK: From the first meeting, Executive Director Peter Lapsley was open to discussing how I could work with the BNG on visitor experiences, arts education, and strategic planning. Peter, BNG Chairman Gary Philips, and the whole board have been open to my input and ideas – culminating in guest curating this exhibit. Everything at the BNG is collaborative – I can contribute structure and approach, but no one has a monopoly on ideas – ideas come from everyone: the community, members, staff, board, collaborators….
BNG: You are also very involved on the ground, giving talks and tours and now curating the exhibition. This a unique position to be in. Has curating the exhibition given you any insights into the day-to-day operations of the gallery that you weren’t aware of previously?
MK: The entire team is professional, dedicated, and totally hands-on. Arts organizations are often scrappy – like a start-up or small business – and BNG is no different. Everyone contributes and the juxtaposition of tasks can be dramatic and even funny: climbing a ladder to adjust lights, then welcoming a minister; meeting with lenders one moment, then vacuuming eraser and drill dust from the walls; collating and bundling postcards, then popping champagne at an opening.
The staff and dedicated volunteers are all-in. At some level I knew this: it all gets done by someone, of course. But to see it all come together for an exhibition opening is exciting. If you’ve been part of a play, organized a board-meeting or major event, you know how that feels – it’s a production.
As a board member, I help the institution balance aspirations and resources. Close engagement with the BNG team in the creation of an exhibit makes that less abstract.
BNG: This is the first exhibition that you have curated at this scale. What other exhibitions and curatorial projects have you worked on? Is this something that you are keen to do more of?
MK: I’ve been involved at the concept-stage and in selection and editing of exhibitions at institutions, commercial galleries, and private collections – mainly with contemporary art. The idea-stage is fun and I’m constantly planning out shows in my head. It’s like creating a fantasy football team, a dream cast for a movie, or a playlist.
After the idea stage, the effort and complexity gets real, and project management skills come in handy – securing selected works, organizing the logistics and hanging, and developing supporting content and programming. It would not have been possible for me to do that without the significant contributions of the BNG staff: Peter, Eve, Lara, and Alice. I would like to curate more, and soon, but the next one will be smaller in scale.
BNG: Where did you get the idea for Illusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape?
MK: Growing up, a friend’s parents had prints from Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile Series that fascinated me. There are six images ranging from a traditional etching-like image of a bull, through a cubist bull decomposition, to a Mondrian-like composition of squares. I like different ways of seeing and creating. I was interested how people had strong opinions and preferences – more realist or more abstract. This still interests me.
Maybe 18 months ago, I rehung two paintings at home and liked how it worked. I thought – this could work to bring together historic and contemporary landscape art in Bermuda. I discussed and developed the idea with friends; I got ideas and encouragement from Jacqueline Alma, Sophie Cressall, Hayley Skurowski, Wilena White, George Peterich, Peter Lapsley, and many others.
BNG: Could you please talk us through your vision for the exhibition?
MK: I wanted an exhibit that would have something for different perspectives and preferences, and with different experiences and expectations. I conceived of the exhibit in three parts. “Realism, depth, and space” would be the most traditional. A section on “Light, atmosphere and color”, would start with impressionism and include abstract works using nature’s colors. “Line, shape, and form” would include realist and abstract works with a focus on composition and structure.
BNG: What do you hope that visitors will take away from it?
MK: I hope visitors will see how different works are connected. For traditionalists, I hope to draw a connection to more-abstract work that is based on observing the world around us. For modernists, I hope they see ingenuity, innovation, and creativity in representational work. I hope to encourage close-looking and consideration of the artistic choices that result in the rich variety.
BNG: The exhibition brings together 39 works pulled across a number of different sources, including the BNG’s permanent collection, corporate and private collections and direct loans from local artists. What was the starting point in selecting the works and how did this evolve?
MK: I pulled first from the permanent collection, showing Bermudian connoisseurship and collecting: Richard Wilson from the Watlington Collection, Charles Lloyd Tucker from the Young Collection, E. Abrose Webster from the David White collection. Then I contacted artists whose work would strengthen the three sections of the exhibit.
Many artists generously loaned – Antoine Hunt, Abi Box, Marion Watlington. Others helped me with recommendations. Sharon Muhamad reminded me that Otto Trott would be an important inclusion; Tina Hutchings showed me work by her mother Nancy Valentine; Flora Goodall showed me the spectacular Jason Bereswill painting; Charles Zuill’s writings pointed me to Rory Jackson; Julie Sylvester told me about the Jennifer Bartletts in Chubb’s collection. Ian Hind suggested and offered the James Toogood and Chris Grimes paintings. Deryn Lavell and Steve Johnson sent me to Steven Masters. John Cox offered the Prosper Louis Senat and outstanding William Chadwick. I found Erik Gamble’s Jabarute on a BNG tour of the Bacardi collection.
The hardest part is the editing. Every piece is selected on its merits, but the pieces need to work in the space and in relation to one another. Choices are made in separate viewing and the selections don’t always work together when side-by-side in the gallery. There are many factors: wall dimensions, art and frame sizes, and the much-needed visual space between. While some combinations don’t work as planned; some new connections are made. I didn’t know that the Abi Box and Antoine Hunt paintings would have quite the effect they do beside each other – and I hadn’t connected that they are the exact same height. I selected more works than are on display at this moment – I’ve held back some works that will rotate into the show.
BNG: You worked closely with many local, living artists on the exhibition. Could you please talk us through this process?
MK: For this exhibit, it is important to show continuity and connectivity across time and place. Even in the most traditional part of this exhibit, half of the works are by living artists, and three were made in the last two years.
It is a great opportunity to spotlighting local living artists. Some artists I already knew, like Abi Box and Eli Cedrone. Some, I knew the work, but had to find and make contact like Charles Zuill. Some were recommended by other artists, like Teresa Kirby Smith who was recommended by Tina Hutchings. In each case, I made contact and explained my intention with the show. I told them why I was interested in their work for the show and asked if they had work that would fit. For several months, every Saturday and Sunday included visits to collections and studios. It was a huge joy. I also just looked and engaged whenever I could. The Bermuda Plein Air painters go out each Sunday. The BSOA rotates shows every month.
BNG: You also collect contemporary work yourself. When did you start collecting art and what do you tend to look for?
MK: I got my first serious painting in high-school – it’s a color field oil painting with a horizon line by St Louis artist Fredrick Nelson. Funny enough, an abstract landscape. Over the past 20 years, I have collected and gotten to know artists everywhere I’ve lived. My taste is broad: I love dark and minimal works – like Antoine Hunt’s roofline. I also love bold colorful geometric works – like Cathy Lapsley’s painting. Themes include transformation, making, and looking.
I mostly collect small scale – I have budget and space constraints, and I like how small works can pull you in. I have far more art than wall because I live in small places – I rotate and rehang all the time. Here, I have fewer pieces and hang more sparingly. In my tiny place in Atlanta, I hang things up to the ceiling and rotate constantly.
BNG: Have you added any Bermuda art to your collection since moving here?
MK: I have small pieces by several artists living and working in Bermuda. My first acquisitions were a photo-realist painting by Rogerio Trott from BSOA, and an encaustic landscape by Sharon Muhammad from Gallery 117. My most recent are a Jayde Gibbons photograph from Black Pony and seascape in oil by Michele Smith from the Art Centre at Dockyard.
Illusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape is on display at Bermuda National Gallery through to October.
Cape Dorset, Nunavut, in the Arctic territories of Canada, is considered the epicenter of printmaking and contemporary Inuit art. Focusing on stone cut prints from the 1960s, this new exhibition presents artworks produced by the first generation of full-time Inuit artists based at the settlement, including works by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Pitseolak Ashoona (1904-1983), two of Canada’s most esteemed graphic artists. Relief prints carved from stone, it is an artform unique to the Inuit that pays respect to their long history of stone carving.
Art is a vital element of Inuit culture. Distinguished by clean graphic outlines and a monochrome palette punctuated by bold strokes of colour, the “shadow prints”, as the Inuit refer to them, provide a contemporary insight into an ancient way of life. Many of the artists were raised in a semi-nomadic life, dictated by the elements and framed by the seasons, before taking up residence as part of 50 families brought together at the Cape Dorset settlement after its establishment in 1959.
The works in the exhibition, produced in the Cape Dorset Print Programme, illustrate both the continuity and change that has shaped the Inuit’s isolated and introspective way of living. The graphic works present a visual history of their culture and capture the strong bonds that they share with their ancestral homelands – a world in which, as Johnniebo Ashevak, Kenojuak’s husband, once suggested, the spirits “whisper in her ears.”
The exhibition, which is sponsored by Bacardi, is on display in the Upper Mezzanine Gallery through to December.
We are pleased to present The Shadow Land: Cape Dorset Prints from the Bacardi Collection, which opens to the public on Thursday, July 8th. The exhibition, which focuses on stone cut prints produced in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, in the Arctic territories of Canada in the 1960s, is the first in the Bacardi Collections Series, a new partnership between BNG and the largest privately held spirits company in the world.
Founded in Cuba in 1862, the company moved its global headquarters to Bermuda in 1965 after the family fled into exile. The Bacardi family has been collecting art since the 1800s. Their collection, which is overseen by an in-house archivist, numbers almost seven hundred artworks and includes masterpieces of both Cuban and European art, which are displayed in company offices around the world.
Bacardi’s art collection has always been a private passion enjoyed by staff and visitors. In this new partnership with the BNG, Bacardi is sharing artworks from its collection with Bermuda. Building on 24 years of Bacardi’s sponsorship of the Bermuda Biennial, the Bacardi Collections Series showcases the family’s art by presenting a selection of works on loan from the striking, Mies van der Rohe-designed, Bacardi global headquarters in Hamilton.
The Shadow Land: Cape Dorset Prints from the Bacardi Collection opens on Thursday, July 8th in the Upper Mezzanine Gallery and runs through to the end of the year. An official opening reception will be held in September.
See the Bermuda National Gallery like you’ve never seen it before! You can now explore BNG from the comfort of your own home witha new 360 degree immersive digital walkthrough of our current exhibitions.
We have partnered with the team at Burnt House Productions to provide this innovative, interactive experience which fundamentally changes how we can give the community access to our exhibitions, provide tours and education programmes and support our island’s schools as we collectively navigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The doors to the Bermuda National Gallery remain temporarily closed in line with current Covid-19 regulations but you can enjoy a range of free, public artworks from the BNG Collection on display in the City of Hamilton.
Why not pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful spring weather in the peaceful surroundings of the Par-La-Ville Sculpture Park, a joint project between the Corporation of Hamilton and the Bermuda National Gallery situated in the Queen Elizabeth Park in the centre of Hamilton.
The majority of the sculptures on display are part of the John Hinson Young II and Nelga Young Collection which was gifted to the BNG by the former owners of the Lantana Cottage Colony in Somerset.
The artworks formed part of the “museum without walls” which the Youngs made so popular with visitors to their property. It was their wish that the sculptures in the collection be displayed publicly in the City of Hamilton so that they may be shared and enjoyed by future generations of Bermudians and visitors as they were at Lantana.
The sculptures, along with existing pieces in the BNG’s collection also on display in the park, form part of Bermuda’s National Sculpture Collection.
Looking to entertain little ones? Click here to download a free copy of our kids’ activity booklet before you go. It provides a fun, educational tour of the sculpture park for children and even encourages them to have a go at designing their own sculpture.
“I think of this exhibit as a love letter to nature and Bermuda written over a couple hundred years, by artists who loved different aspects, and say it in different ways.” says guest curator Mitchell Klink.
1) Realism & Depth: In this section we see artists painting landscape that looks like the world around us – they give the illusion of depth to a 2-dimensional canvas. You may look at Richard Wilsons’ painting from 1760, or Mary Parker West’s from 1876 and think ‘traditional.’ But it’s not all traditional — I encourage you to look at Charles Lloyd Tucker’s innovative paint work. And it’s not all old. Half are by living artists; three were made in the last 2 years.
2) Light, Colour & Atmosphere: Early in the 20th century, tourists and artists like William Chadwick came to Bermuda attracted by the beauty, climate and colours. Katherine Tucker is like a great grandmother of Bermuda landscape painting. She was an entrepreneur who made Bermuda unforgettable for international travelers. Sheilagh Head and Sharon Muhammad are her artistic descendants – they capture Bermuda’s color and light with their own identifiable artistic style. Here you’ll see works bright as a summer’s day, light as perfume like in the painting by Steven Masters, and dark and mysterious, like the plein air paintings we see by Molly Godet and Michele Smith’s Southlands.
3) Line, shape & Form: Here are international and Bermudian artists focused on the shapes and forms that surround us. They take in nature and the built environment from afar and scrutinize up-close. They emphasize lines and shapes. They are sometimes structured like Tina Hutchings or lyrical like Abi Box. Complex like Marion Watlington’s leaves and Cathy Lapsley’s geometries or simplified like Antoine Hunt’s roofline. Sometimes bombastic, like Erik Gamble’s Jabarute, or quiet and reflective, like Stratton Hatfield’s composition of cast leaves.
There are 36 artists and 39 works. More than half are by living artists. About half of the show is by women artists. 1/3 of the works are from the Bermuda National Gallery’s permanent collection; 4 works are from corporate collections; 9 are from private collections; the rest are direct loans from artists. One sponsor is a new Bermudian company – the Landscape company Solterra. The education sponsor is an International Business with an established commitment to the gallery – Axis. Even before it opened, the love and support from the community has been great.
If you’re a traditionalist, a Maximalist, or a Minimalist, I hope you all find something here that speaks to your preferences, and something new you didn’t expect.”
Mitchell Klink will be hosting curator-led tours of the exhibition exclusively for BNG members on Saturday, April 3. Tickets are free and must be booked in advance. Click here to register.
The Bermuda National Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition by Gherdai Hassell. I Am Because You Are opens to the public on Friday, March 12.
In 2019, the former Bermuda Biennial artist uncovered a family tree which traced her lineage back eight generations from Bermuda via St Kitts to Africa, where her ancestor was captured and enslaved. Driven by an exploration of her own heritage, in this exhibition, Hassell examines the lasting impacts of slavery: re-imagining the identities of enslaved Bermudians in a series of striking portraits, texts, and installation inspired by the Bermuda Slave Registers and historic photographs in the Bermuda Archives.
In scrutinizing her personal history, Hassell weaves an imagined narrative of Bermuda and its people, merging past, present, and future. The exhibition is sponsored by the Department of Culture with support from the Bermuda Arts Council and the Centennial Bermuda Foundation.
Dr. The Hon. Ernest Peets JP, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, opened the exhibition. He said: “The Department of Culture is pleased to partner with the Bermuda National Gallery as a sponsor of Gherdai Hassell’s first solo exhibition – I Am Because You Are. This is an inspiring and moving exhibition that chronicles Gherdai’s family history and her connections to St. Kitts and Africa. More specifically, it traces our own difficult collective history as it relates to the Bermuda Slave Registers and how that journey intersects with Gherdai’s family story.
“We are particularly intrigued by this solo exhibition because it speaks to the kinds of artistic works and experiences relating to the African Diaspora that we also seek to highlight as part our Emancipation Programme. The Department of Culture is delighted to support Gherdai Hassell’s artistic voice and vision, and encourage the community to support this young Bermudian talent by going to the Bermuda National Gallery to see her exhibition when it opens to the public.”
Peter Lapsley, Executive Director of the Bermuda National Gallery, said: “This exhibition began for us in 2019 when we saw Gherdai’s work in an exhibition at the Bermuda Society of Arts here in City Hall. We were struck by the immediacy and authenticity of her collaged portraits and encouraged her to consider applying to the Bermuda National Gallery’s 2020 Bermuda Biennial themed Let Me Tell you Something sponsored by Bacardi Limited.
“Gherdai applied, and was accepted by the international jurors with her impressive artwork Interactions Bermuda quickly becoming a visitor favourite and based on the artwork produced by our education programmes a student favourite too!
“In getting to know Gherdai it became clear that she had an important voice and as part of our multi-year series exploring our place, our people, our stories, and our future, it was important that we give her a national platform. This has led to a year long process, complicated by a global pandemic, of working with Gherdai to create the exhibition I Am Because You Are. I want to thank Gherdai for her effort and engagement and also for her courageousness in making this exhibition.
He added: “This exhibition is brave, challenging and beautiful and it is our hope that it will not only provide inspiration and contemplation, but that it might help us all reflect on our shared history.
“I would like to thank Minister Peets and the Department of Culture, whose sponsorship of this important exhibition was integral to it’s development and implementation. I would also like to thank the Bermuda Arts Council for recognising and supporting Gherdai’s work as an artist through their artist grant programme, and to the Centennial Bermuda Foundation for their kind support of the exhibition as part of their connected communities programme.”
I Am Because You Are by Gherdai Hassell opens to the public on Friday, March 12 and runs through until September.