Illusion & Abstraction

Capturing the Landscape

“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.

lllusion & Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape is on now at BNG and runs through to September. We asked Mitchell to talk us through his approach to the exhibition, which examines our relationship with the world around us.

Mitchell Klink Bermuda National Gallery
Mitchell Klink photographed by Brandon Morrison for Burnt House Productions.

He says: “The show is structured in three parts:

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.

Classical Landscape with Diana and Actaeon by Richard Wilson c. 1760. Oil on canvas.
Collection of the Government of Bermuda. The Hon. Hereward T. Watlington Bequest.

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.

The works on display are from the Bermuda National Gallery’s permanent collection, corporate collections, private collections and direct loans from artists.

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.

Left: You’s a bone alligator, by Abi Box, 2020. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Right: Roof Line by Antoine Hunt, 2019. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

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 gives a tour to the International Women’s Club of Bermuda.

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.


I Am Because You Are

Gherdai Hassell

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. 

The exhibition fuses painting, text and installation to create an immersive experience.

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, visits the exhibition.

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.”

The exhibition was inspired by the Bermuda Slave Registers and historic photographs held in the Bermuda Archives.

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. 

Visitors are encouraged to share their reflections on their experience.

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.


New Exhibitions

Opening March 2021

The Bermuda National Gallery is pleased to present I Am Because You Are, the first solo show by emerging Bermudian artist Gherdai Hassell, which opens in March 2021.

Driven by an exploration of her own ancestral heritage,  the former Biennial artist examines the lasting impacts of slavery; re-imagining the identities of enslaved Bermudians in a series of striking portraits, installation and text inspired by historic photographs discovered in the Bermuda Archives.

The multi-media exhibition merges photographic installation with portraiture in a meditation on time and the search for connection. Fusing past, present and future, I Am Because You Are reclaims a shared history by re-imaging lost identities and giving a voice to those who didn’t have one.  

Gherdai Hassell I Am Because You Are Bermuda National Gallery
Atlas of After Image by Gherdai Hassell, 2020. 
Acrylic, oil and collage on canvas. 24 x 30 in. Collection of the artist.  

Part of the Bermuda National Gallery’s multi-year series exploring our place, our people, our stories and our future, Illusion and Abstraction: Capturing the Landscape  celebrates  the  rediscovery of the local landscape during  the coronavirus pandemic.

Opening in March 2021, the exhibition, curated by BNG trustee Mitchell Klink, looks at the ways in which artists have both faithfully translated and refracted Bermuda’s landscape.

Examining our relationship with the natural world through three distinct lenses: realism, depth and space; atmosphere, colour and light; shape, form and line, Illusion and Abstraction affords us an opportunity to consider other perspectives, and maybe even see the world anew ourselves.  

Vorhees Bermuda National Gallery
Bermuda Landscape 1919 by Clark Greenwood Voorhees. Oil on board. 9 x 11. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery. Gift of Mrs Ormond Cox Zuill. 

Click here to visit our current exhibitions.


New Digital Exhibition

A Source of Inspiration

A new exhibition, which was planned to open later this week before our temporary closure, is now open online. Curated by Alice Moniz as part of the Bermuda National Gallery internship programme, A Source of Inspiration: St Georges As Seen Through the Bermuda National Gallery Collection celebrates the old town’s unique place in Bermuda’s historic, contemporary and artistic landscape.  

Hoffman Bermuda National Gallery
Top: Bermuda House, St George’s by Rupert Lovejoy (American, 1885 – 1975), c. 1925. Oil on board. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery. Gift of David L. White, OBE.
Above: Castle Island by Harry Leslie Hoffman (American, 1871 – 1964), 1929. Oil on canvas. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery. Gift of David L. White, OBE

Taking in works from George Ault’s spare modernist style to David Putnam Brinley’s bold flattened representations of vernacular architecture and Clarence Scott White’s light infused canvasses, the range of styles and scenes in the exhibition offer an original perspective on life in St Georges in the 20th century.  

Click here to tour the exhibition, which is displayed in the Ondaatje Gallery. The online exhibition includes a video walk through, a focus on the individual artworks and a free to download children’s activity pack which has been produced exclusively for the exhibition.

Stanley Wingate The Old Rectory Bermuda National Gallery
The Old Rectory by Stanley Wingate (American, 1890 – 1970), c. 1950. Oil on board. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery. Gift of David L. White, OBE.

The BNG Internship Programme provides on the job training to individuals between 18 and 25 in all aspects of museum operations. The programme provides paid opportunities for young people within the arts and culture sector as well as training and career development. For further information please visit our Education page.