Two Weeks Before Christmas and Government House

Robert Barritt

Bermudian (1927-2015)

Oil on board

1960

Collection of Bermuda National Gallery. Gift of the artist.

Formally trained in fine art at Mount Allison University, Robert
Barritt exhibited frequently in Bermuda during the 1950s and
1960s. He ventured beneath Bermuda’s postcard-perfect surface,
where few Bermudians, and even fewer of his white contemporaries
dared go, tackling issues of poverty and social injustice.
He explained of his choice of subjects: “In most countries, you
can follow their history through their art, but in Bermuda, I have
always been critical that what we see, more than anything, is
a lot of pink cottages and beaches and no one is painting how
the people feel, how they’re reacting to things.”
In Two Weeks Before Christmas and Government House, one of
Barritt’s two works in the Bermuda National Gallery’s permanent
collection, an innocent activity points to class and racial divide.
The painting depicts the Pembroke Dump at the back of the
city of Hamilton, whose nearby residents were nearly all Black;
Barritt encountered a group of boys gathering oranges from a
crate and was inspired to sketch, later noting: “The fact that it was
before Christmas and Government House was in the background,
I thought that made a statement.”

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