The African Collection: Our People, Our Places, Our Storiescloses on May 28. The striking exhibition showcases the Bermuda National Gallery’s permanent collection of African art, which consists of 37 works, representing 22 peoples from 12 countries in sub-Saharan west Africa, which range from ritual sculpture to masks, functional objects and textiles.
On display alongside the collection is a series of works by French documentary photographer and film directorCatherine de Clippel which illustrate several of the masks on display being used in ritual ceremonies and capture the distinctive mud architecture of Djenné and M’Pessoba that serve as the backdrop for many of the customs.
We recently welcomed P2 students from Bermuda High School (pictured below) and P3 students from West Pembroke for class tours of the exhibition. If you would like to arrange a class field trip please email our Education Officer Rehana Packwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BNG: Thank you for your generosity in opening up Nancy’s archives, and your own, for this exhibition. What has working on it been like for you?
CH: Sharing my mother’s archive with the Bermuda National Gallery for this exhibition has been a journey of discovery. I’ve gained an understanding and deep appreciation for her long career as a pioneering artist, designer, collector and founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NWMA) in Washington DC.
As a child in the 1950s I didn’t understand that Nancy was an exceptional artist. She was simply my mother, who every day went to her studio to make things. As an adult, I have a great admiration for her pioneering use of new materials in the 1950s, her work as a designer of fiberglass screens and chairs in the 1960s and her talent as a painter, particularly in regard to her selection of subject matter and use of colour. I’ve also come to appreciate her insightful eye and talents as a collector and the important role that she played as a founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
In looking through my own archives and sending images to Eve (Godet Thomas, Director of Programming and Engagement) and Peter (Lapsley, Executive Director), as they crafted the exhibition, my understanding of the common threads that they saw between my mother’s work and my own broadened and I have been happily surprised.
It has been a privilege working on the exhibition with the BNG team.
BNG: Nancy was making artwork at a time when there were very few visible women artists. What do you think drove her to create and to continually innovate?
CH: I don’t think that my mother thought of herself as a trailblazer. She was simply driven by her own internal creative forces. Her energetic, open, curious, and creative temperament prompted her in all aspects of her life, including her artwork.
BNG: Nancy was a founding member of the National Museum for Women in the Arts, which was the first museum dedicated solely to the work of female artists. She also assembled an important collection of works by women silversmiths (which is now in the permanent collection of the NWMA) along with a collection of botanical illustrations by female artists. Were you aware of how much she championed female artists when you were a child?
CH: As a child I was not at all aware that Nancy was a champion of women artists. By the 1970s, with the dawn of the feminist movement there was more of an awareness of the disparities between men and women, in art and in life. She may have had this in mind when she decided to focus solely on woman silversmiths to collect. There was also the fact, at that time, works by female silversmiths sold at auction were lower in price, even as they were as good or better than comparable work by male silversmiths
BNG: Did her advocacy for the feminist movement shape your own career path in any way?
CH: As far as I know, she didn’t adopt a feminist political position. She generally didn’t take on controversy and succeeded without taking a political position.
However, her determination to take on challenges and to be self-sufficient was a good example to me and informed my belief that I had to be able to support myself. This belief prompted my career choice to study architecture. It was important that this was in a field that was close to, and would contribute to, my interest in art. It was important that one interest should inform the other.
BNG: One thing that stood out when researching the exhibition is the fact that both you and Nancy share a dedicated daily studio practice. This can be a very difficult thing for an artist to establish and to sustain. Is this something that has always been important to you?
CH: My mother always had a working studio in our house. As a child, I loved being in her studio and watching her as she worked with resin making screens. I would often go into her studio and make something even if she wasn’t in there, I loved her studio space. It was filled with materials and possibilities.
My studio is an important place for me because it is like an open sketch book. It is filled with works in progress, materials and coloured papers juxtaposed. Like a sketch book, these studio materials in random juxtapositions suggest ideas for new works. I have always had a studio in every place I have lived.
BNG: How do you maintain momentum when it comes to making artwork part of your daily routine?
CH: The momentum of practicing art making daily varies for me. I’m most happy when I am focused and, in the studio, working on a project. I don’t always maintain momentum but to help sustain momentum the first thing that I do in the morning is to look in the studio to see if there is something that surprises me or suggests a way forward. Usually there is something that catches my eye, and the momentum can be maintained.
BNG:Both you and Nancy cross the boundaries between fine art and design – Nancy with her decorative screens and the production of a set of fiberglass furniture in the early 1960s, and you with your architectural work in NYC and, more recently, large installations for several Bermuda Biennials. How and why do you move between one discipline and the other? Does one inform the other and vice versa?
CH: I move between design and fine art because I enjoy both disciplines. I love the process of seeing how a drawing on paper can transform an idea into a built project. For me, fine art and design inform one another in many ways and especially with their reliance on drawing. The drawing methods used in preparing for a design project are applicable to the production of an art installation. Both require an idea or program to start, sketches, measured design drawings and details to describe how to build the idea.
BNG: Why do think this transition was also important to Nancy?
CH: I don’t think my mother saw any distinction between her design work and her fine art practice. I think that she just went full steam ahead in everything she did and especially in her creative work.
BNG: Has the exhibition changed your view of Nancy’s work, or indeed your own, in any way?
CH: I was delighted to come to understand my mother’s body of work as a whole for the first time and to discover the commonalities between our work. My body of work is not complete, and I have drawn inspiration from this exhibition that will further inform my own work.
I would like to extend my gratitude and sincere thanks to BNG and particularly Eve and Peter for their insightful conception of and stunning presentation of the exhibition.
Testing Boundaries: In the Studio with Nancy Valentine and Christina Hutchings closes on May 21.
Recognizing the importance of art education in developing critical thinking skills, confidence and teamwork, Bermuda National Gallery with the generous support of Centennial Bermuda Foundation are offering needs based scholarships for the Art+Tech Summer Camp programme.
This year, the Art+Tech programme, which has been running since 2009, is open to 15 students per week. They will be based between the gallery and the BNG Education Satellite Space in the nearby Washington Mall, generously supported by Washington Properties. Each student will be assigned an iPad and Apple Pencil to work with.
To ensure that as many students as possible have access to the course, registration is limited to one week per student. They can choose from a variety of modules:
Animation: Students will learn the principles of animation and apply those to making short 2D animations.
Digital Painting: Students will learn colour theory and perspective as well as digital painting techniques.
Photo Editing : Using photography and photo editing techniques, this week will introduce students to digital collage and photobashing.
A selection of artworks produced in the 2021 Art+Tech summer camp programme can be viewed here.
Scholarships, which cover up to 85% of the cost of camp, are needs-based and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. The cost of camp is $250 for BNG Family Members (or higher), and $325 for non-members. An annual Family Membership is included for non-members.
Membership includes unlimited free gallery access for up to 4 family members (2 adults and 2 children), invitations to exhibition previews and exclusive events plus priority access to all BNG education programmes.
For more information, and to register, click here.
For further information please contact Rehana Packwood, Education Officer on 295 9428 or email email@example.com.
From Ruth Thomas MBE, founding trustee of the Bermuda National Gallery and the first Bermuda Cultural Affairs Officer, to Alan Burland, co-founder of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, the exhibition shines a light on Bermudians who have given back to the community in a number of different ways.
Included in the cast is Dr David Wingate OBE. Affectionately nicknamed the Bird Man of Bermuda, the award winning ornithologist, naturalist and conservationist helped to re-discover and breed the Bermuda Cahow, which was believed to have been extinct for 300 years.
The painting of Dr Wingate has been generously donated to the Bermuda National Gallery’s permanent collection by the Bermuda Zoological Society. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to BAMZ for making this gift possible.
This artwork not only honours a Bermudian whose work has had such substantial and positive impact on our island, but provides BNG with important exhibition and learning opportunities for the community for future generations.
From Darkness to Light: Portraits by Henry Ward is on display in the Watlington Room from May 10 through to October 15. With support from Christian Humann Foundation, Bermuda Centennial Foundation and D&J Construction.
Testing Boundaries: In the Studio with Nancy Valentine and Christina Hutchings will be closing on Saturday, May 21. The exhibition looks at the work of a mother and daughter, whose lives and studio practices intertwined, and who each forged a unique path as women and as interdisciplinary artists.
The exhibition grew from an interview that we did with Christina to mark Mother’s Day exactly one year ago.
Flotsam and Jetsam: The Cost of Modern Living by Meredith Andrews has won in the 37th Association of Photographers’ (AOP) Open Awards. The exhibition, which was produced by the Bermuda National Gallery in collaboration with Keep Bermuda Beautiful, won Silver in the Project category, which was judged by Jenny Ricketts, Trustee, Martin Parr Foundation and Isabelle Von Ribbentrop, Executive Director, Prix Pictet.
“The featured projects came from an exceptional group of artists, each of whom demonstrated a highly distinctive approach to the theme, at times challenging our understanding of what photography can be. The winner’s project was a reminder of current threatening situations that the whole world is facing.” said Isabelle Von Ribbentrop.
Meredith said: “I’m deeply honoured to have received a Silver prize for my series Flotsam & Jetsam in the 37th Association of Photographers (AOP) Open Awards. Being recognized by such a prestigious organization is a huge boost and a career high. The more this work and its pressing message is exposed to people the better. None of this would have been possible without the support of BNG and KBB.”
The exhibition is now closed, however a set of limited edition prints of Flotsam & Jetsam can be purchased from the gallery, priced $250 each. Limited edition archival print. Edition of 20. Numbered and signed by the artist. 16 x 20 in. Unframed.
From Darkness to Light: Portraits by Henry Wardopens to the public on Tuesday, May 10. The exhibition, which is curated byDr Charles Zuill, captures key figures in Bermuda’s diverse communities.
Having honed his craft for over 20 years, Henry Ward’s approach to portraiture is inspired by techniques developed over the centuries by the Old Masters “in whose works light represented the presence of the Divine — darkness, our universal origins.” In his studio-based practice, Ward employs traditional materials in his selection of oil paint and Belgian linen; however, stylistically, he seeks to blend the old with the new.
Invitations for the Members’ Opening have been sent out. If you have not received an invitation, your membership may have lapsed. Click here to renew for 2022/23 or contact Jennifer Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Darkness To Light: Portraits by Henry Ward will be on display in the Watlington Room from May 10 through to October 15. With support from the Centennial Bermuda Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation and D&J Construction.
Volunteers are at the heart of the Bermuda National Gallery. As a non-profit (registered charity #288) with a small team of 5 staff, the gallery could not operate without the hard work and commitment of a dedicated group of volunteers.
From the board of trustees who steward the sound governance and fiduciary oversight of the organisation, to art lovers who dedicate their time to greeting and guiding visitors through the space and those who help to install artworks and prep the gallery for exhibitions, volunteers are the very backbone of BNG.
The roles are myriad, as are the ages and experiences of those who volunteer their time. Volunteering not only supports the gallery, it also benefits those who share their time. Students can gain a valuable insight into the running of a museum; those looking to build their resumes can develop new skills; retirees are able to build new networks and forge deeper connections with the community.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we took a moment to catch up with some of our volunteers to find out what volunteering at BNG means to them and what they have learnt from their time at the gallery.
Charlene Scott & François Bertrand
Since retiring a couple of years ago, Charlene Scott and her husband François Bertrand dedicate one alternating day a week as front desk volunteers, where they meet and greet visitors. We caught up with Charlene and François, who are both passionate art collectors, to discuss their roles and why, in their experience, BNG is about more than just art: it has the power to educate people about almost anything.
BNG:How did you start volunteering at BNG and how long have you been at the gallery?
CS: Less than four years ago, my husband and I were invited to a Friday evening cruise around the harbour on the Bermuda Sloop. We met with BNG Chairman Gary Phillips and his wife Tricia. It was Tricia who sparked my interest in doing some volunteer work. I had been thinking of doing something after retiring from a very busy job, so I took the bait, and the rest is history. Originally, I did every Wednesday afternoon and since Covid, I alternate my time at the Gallery with my husband, François.
FB: I started a few months after Charlene as a floater as I preferred a flexible schedule, then moved to alternating Wednesday afternoons to complement Charlene’s schedule. I am still filling in, from time to time, when there is a need.
BNG:What do you do in your capacity as volunteers?
CS: I’m on the Front Desk. I enjoy meeting people and informing them of what is current in the gallery. Collecting the entry fee from visitors or persuading them to give a donation is also part of the experience. Taking and delivering messages is also an important aspect of being on the Front Desk.
FB: As a Front Desk volunteer our foremost role is to greet the visitors, collect the applicable fee and give them a quick summary of the various exhibits showing now. We answer their questions about the Gallery, and sometimes any other question they may have about Bermuda. Then there are all the other little tasks like renewing membership, selling the BNG paraphernalia and answering the phone.
BNG: You are both art collectors and collect works by many local artists. Has your experience as collectors affected the way you experience the works and exhibitions in the gallery?
CS: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is said! The gallery showcases different expressions of art and I get to see that first-hand. Being there does not really affect or influence the way I see works and exhibitions. As will be the case, I like some exhibits more than others. Art is so very personal. Recently, we purchased prints from one of the local artists [Meredith Andrews’ limited-edition prints, accompanying Flotsam and Jetsam: The Cost of Modern Living].
FS: It is always interesting to see new work from artists we already know, and in some cases have purchased pieces from before. It is also always interesting to discover work from artists we did not know.
BNG: Why is it important to support BNG?
CS: Art is a form of expression. Our society needs to appreciate not only academic achievements; it should also value the artistic endeavours of persons, whichever form they take.
FS: The quick and easy answer is that it provides a platform for Bermuda artists to exhibit their work. However, art is a lot more important to society. To answer the above question, one must first ask: Why is art important to Bermuda? If I were to summarize my thoughts into one phrase or concept, I would say that the BNG has the power to educate people about almost anything.
BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience?
CS: Observing and having brief conversations with the people who walk through the door…they come from all walks of life, different countries and have varied experiences!
FS: Stuffing envelopes…just kidding! Viewing and learning about new exhibits and interacting with foreign tourists are the most interesting part of the experience of a front desk volunteer.
Sophia Tessitore has been volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery for the past year. The recent Bermuda College graduate comes in once a fortnight to assist with a variety of different jobs, from prepping the gallery for new exhibitions and installing artworks to admin tasks. She credits her experience at the gallery with helping to open her eyes to a new career path and later this year plans to study online for a Bachelor’s of History from Royal Holloway, University of London, with the aim of pursuing a career in the museum sector.
BNG: How did you start volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery and how long have you been there?
ST: I began volunteering in March of 2021, after visiting the BNG for a gallery tour of the 2020 Bermuda Biennial with Governor Rena Lalgie and my art history professor at Bermuda College, Dr. Edwin Smith (who was participating in the exhibition). I initially got involved because I love art and thought it would be an interesting way to pass time; through volunteering, I discovered a new career path and set of skills.
BNG What do you do in your capacity as a volunteer?
ST: My first-time volunteering, I assisted with the installation of Gherdai Hassel’s first solo exhibitionI Am Because You Are. This was my first experience installing artwork, and was great as I got to learn more about the process of creating an art exhibition. Currently, I do reception and front desk duties, help with installation and occasionally assist with administrative tasks, such as organizing BNG’s email lists, transcribing interviews and proofreading press releases.
BNG: How can getting involved at BNG support the goals of young Bermudians interested in a career in the arts?
ST: I think volunteering is a great opportunity for those interested in a career in the arts. I’ve learned so much about the art scene in Bermuda along with the day-to-day work that often goes into operating an art gallery or museum, it’s incredibly fascinating and it’s an experience that will stick with me!
BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience?
ST: My favourite aspect would probably be getting to interact with those who visit, display their art or work in the gallery. Discussing art with them is so interesting and has been a great learning experience. Volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery is something that I would definitely recommend!
Stephanie Hardy recently began volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery once a week after school as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme. The 14 year old student, who is currently in M4 at Somersfield Academy helps the team with a variety of tasks, from exhibition research to setting up the space for evening art classes. In order to attain the Bronze Award in the Duke of Edinburgh Programme, Stephanie needs to complete 12 weeks of community service, which her time at the BNG is helping her to achieve.
BNG: How did you start volunteering at BNG and how long have you been at the gallery?
SH: I started volunteering at the Bermuda National Gallery as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme. I started here in December of 2021, and I come and help out for about an hour each week.
BNG: What do you do as a volunteer?
SH: I usually help with current or ongoing projects in the gallery, from packing artwork to running errands. I also learn from those around me about what it takes to run a gallery. I have learned how BNG plans exhibitions and about hanging artworks in the gallery. I was also able to help with the art classes in the late afternoon, which was a great learning opportunity about the preparation involved.
BNG: Why is it important for young people to volunteer in their communities?
SH: I feel as though it’s important for young people to volunteer to help the community, especially if you’re volunteering in an area where you would be interested in pursuing a career path in in the future. It can create vital connections and friends within subsets of the wider community. It’s also improving the lives of those you help, and thus the community.
BNG: Would you recommend that other students complete their volunteer hours at BNG?
SH: Definitely. The team at the Bermuda National Gallery is very welcoming and willing to work with total beginners. It has a nice atmosphere, and it offers great in-roads to the art community in Bermuda. It’s also an interesting volunteer experience for those who are interested in how a gallery works.
BNG: What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience?
SH: Getting to go through older Bermuda Biennial artworks is one of my favourite things that I have done at BNG. It’s a great reflection of how art has changed, even in recent years. It acts as a time capsule for the art community in Bermuda, which is very interesting to look back on. Getting to know artists in the community, or those who have been in the community in the past, when flipping through the catalogues is intriguing.
If you possess a love for the arts and would like to get involved, please contact Volunteer and Operations Officer Lara Hetzel at email@example.com.
Over the Easter holidays, we held a Narrative Art Camp for students age 8 to 12. Under the direction of Education Officer Rehana Packwood, students explored a variety of art mediums and learnt to make comics, create flipbooks, write and illustrate poetry, and more!
Click here for further information about BNG Education Programmes.
Registration is now open for our popular Art + Tech Summer Camp, which runs from July 4 through to August 26. The programme, which is aimed at students age 11 to 14, will cover animation, digital painting and photo-editing. Students will each be assigned an iPad and Apple Pencil to work with.
Classes will be limited to 15 students and will be based between the Bermuda National Gallery and BNG’s satellite education space in the nearby Washington Mall, generously sponsored by Washington Properties.
Due to high demand, registration is limited to one week only and students, are asked to choose their preferred module. They can choose from:
Animation (July 4-8, August 1-15 and August 22-26): In this module, students will learn the principles of animation and apply those to making short 2D animations.
Digital Painting(July 11-15, August 8-12): Students will learn colour theory and digital painting techniques in order to create digital paintings of their own.
Photo-editing (July 18-22, August 15-19): Using photography and photo editing techniques, this week will introduce students to digital collage and photobashing.
Pricing: Family Members+: $250, Non-members: $325 (includes free membership). Bursaries are available for low-income students, for information please email Education Officer Rehana Packwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.