Meet the BNG Team
Get to know the team behind the 2022 Best of Bermuda Award. As a small but nimble team of five staff, we all wear many hats. Our membership has grown over the past year and with a relatively new team in place we thought that we would introduce ourselves to you. In celebration of being named Best Museum we will be profiling each of our staff members over the next few weeks. This week we meet Rehana Packwood.
Since joining the Bermuda National Gallery just over a year ago, Rehana has breathed new life into the gallery’s education programming in her role as Education Officer. A passionate digital artist, she has expanded the scope of BNG’s signature Art+Tech programme to include a focus on animation and digital painting and has introduced an after-school programme to further develop student skills picked up in the long-running summer camp.
An avid fan of comics and visual storytelling, Rehana has also introduced a Narrative Art camp, taking place in the shorter school breaks, which encourages a younger age group to learn to make comics, create flipbooks, and write and illustrate poetry.
Rehana returned to Bermuda in 2021 to take up the role at the gallery, moving from London where she was completing her Masters, having previously spent two years teaching in Japan. As Education Officer she plans and coordinates all BNG education programmes, for both children and adults. Working closely with the curatorial team, she produces the BNG Kids activity booklets which accompany each of our exhibitions and works with schools and community organisations to lead tours of the gallery.
We caught up with Rehana to discuss her passion for digital art, the joy of children discovering the gallery for the first time and how BNG education programmes provide art classes for a broad audience, often free of charge.
BNG: What does a typical day in the gallery look like for you?
RP: There is no such thing as a typical for me really, as it is dictated by what programmes are going on. At the moment, I am running the Art+Tech Summer Camp programme, so that takes up most of my attention. I split my time between teaching digital art skills, liaising with the camp counsellors and running back and forth between our satellite education space in Washington Mall and my office at the gallery, as I am also planning our fall programming.
During term time, my weeks are shaped by the programmes that we run on different days – whether that is the twice-weekly after school programme or Draw and Explore, an artist-led drawing course for adults. We have had some great teachers, including Dr Edwin Smith, John Gardner, Tiffany Paynter and Vaughan Evans who have each shared their unique approach.
A lot of my time is also taken with creating the education materials that accompany each of our exhibitions, reaching out to schools to promote our programming and encouraging field trips to the gallery.
BNG: What part of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
RP: I enjoy teaching, particularly younger age groups. Kids are fun, and their enthusiasm can be infectious. I enjoy giving tours of our exhibitions for the same reason. Seeing smaller kids come into the gallery for the first time is always fantastic as they get so excited!
Towards the end of the last school year, we were able to bring in a couple of different schools to see The African Collection: Our People, Our Places, Our Stories, which was wonderful after two years of field trips being put on hold because of the pandemic. I look forward to doing more this coming academic year.
BNG: What would people be most surprised to know about your role?
RP: People are often interested to discover that alongside kids programmes, we also offer a range of adult classes. People are also always intrigued by the fact that I design all of the BNG Kids activity booklets. A lot of work goes into them, working closely with the curatorial team to define the underlying theme of the show and then expanding on this to create a holistic approach that is both educational and entertaining for varying age groups.
The packs are designed so that kids can use them for self-guided tours of our exhibitions and so that schools can also use them as stand-alone lesson planners, alongside our virtual tour. The booklets are free and can be picked up in the gallery or downloaded online.
BNG: What is something that most people don’t know about BNG?
RP: I think that a lot of people don’t realise that we work hard to get funding for our education programmes, which means that often we are able to offer free places, both for adults and children – whether that be with scholarships or through community-based adult programmes such as Urban Sketch. Our programmes are designed to be inclusive and to reach as broad an audience as possible. The arts should be for everyone, and we work hard to make that happen.
BNG: What is your favourite piece in the collection and why?
RP: I don’t have a favourite piece, but I am fascinated by the images in A Personal Perspective: Photographs by Richard Saunders. Every time I look at them my eye is drawn to something interesting and unique – whether it is the baby’s face peaking through in South American Project, c.1965 or the intensity of the girl’s stance in Members of the 4-C Club Listening to Instructor, Upper Volta, 1972.
I have always loved black and white art and the strong contrast that it creates. I am a big fan of manga, Japanese comics, which are in black and white, and Saunders’ photographs share a similar narrative thread.