2022 Bermuda Biennial
Antoine A. R. Hunt
b. 1965, Bermudian
Currently lives and works between Istanbul, Bristol, Mexico, Berlin and Bermuda
Antoine A. R. Hunt is a Bermudian artist and director. He has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years. Recent projects include shooting and directing a feature film documenting the process of making mezcal in Mexico, In the Belly of The Moon.
Of his 2022 Bermuda Biennial artwork, he says: “Bermuda is affectionately known as the rock. This is a reference to the coral mount that we depend on in so many ways.
Bermuda’s four-hundred-year history is one of both local and global importance. From its beginnings as a place of refuge and recovery for Jamestown-bound pilgrims, to the countless Bermudians who have contributed significantly to the global conversation. The reality of diminishing local traditions cannot be denied as we move towards the future, the act of documenting Bermuda’s history becomes even more critical.
Stone as a building material came about early in Bermuda’s history. Building in stone was accelerated by two severe hurricanes in 1712 and 1715 which destroyed most of the island’s wooden houses. The only material left for settlers to use was Bermuda’s limestone foundation.
These structures typically take form as a low squared buildings with a stepped, white roof and pastel-painted walls, both of which are made out of stone. These roofs are designed to catch water, of which there is no fresh supply on the island apart from rain. Often these houses are built on a slope and there is a set of stairs, wider at the base than at the top, leading up to a porch or veranda around the front door. Embellishments can include a brick pattern down the corners of the building and narrow molding to highlight features such as eyebrows over windows. The archetypical Bermuda house is a lonely example of an indigenous art form.
These dwellings begin with extracting 15 to 25-foot megalithic limestone pillars that were cut by hand with long chisels and six-foot long saws. To begin the quarrying, stonecutters would determine what direction the stone would fall. They would select a suitable starting point then chisel and rake out a trough around the first stone to be cut. This first stone, called the head stone or key block, was like the first piece of a pie. Getting it out was the hardest part of the job. The rest of the blocks were much easier to remove, pried loose and were allowed to fall to the ground, landing on a bed of scrap stones.
The quarryman come from a tradition of stone cutting that began in slavery. When the enslaved where emancipated it was one of the few businesses that Black Bermudians were allowed to own. Aeolian is a monument dedicated to the heroic quarrymen of the past and reminds us that this once abundant material is now a scarce resource.
Aeolian was extracted from one of the few remaining quarries using tried and proven methods outlined. Echoing the beauty and durability of Bermuda limestone in construction and as a testament to the historical significance of this magnificent material, Aeolian stands in front of one of the largest Bermuda limestone block buildings ever constructed, the City Hall & Arts Centre.
The 2022 Bermuda Biennial: Past. Present. Future., sponsored by Bacardi Limited, is on display at the Bermuda National Gallery through to the end of the year.