Creating Opportunity

Nhuri Bashir

Nhuri Bashir is one of Bermuda’s leading contemporary commercial photographers and the co-founder of Burnt House Productions. A self-taught photographer, 10 years ago Nhuri swapped a corporate career for one in the arts and is passionate about creating opportunities through art for residents in the neighborhood in which he grew up.

He approached us with an idea for a public art programme in the North Hamilton area and several meetings later, the BNG 5K Run for the Arts was born. Sponsored by Chubb, and with support from Zurich, the inaugural run takes place on April 23, with funds raised supporting both the installation of several murals in North Hamilton and a paid placement on the BNG Internship Programme for a student from the area.

As preparations for the race gather pace, we caught up with Nhuri to discuss his passion for giving people the opportunity to create their own platform, how the prevalence of graffiti in his neighborhood led him to the realization that public spaces could also be used as canvases for good and why we all need to be part of change in order to make it happen.

Three sites have been identified as potential locations for murals. Local residents and business owners have offered their properties, free of charge, including Belvin’s Variety on Happy Valley Road.

BNG: Ten years ago, you swapped a corporate career for one in the arts, moving from banking to photography. Was this a gradual process? What prompted you to make this change?

NB: Honestly, I had always intended to begin the path of entrepreneurship at the age of 30. I grew up in a household that encouraged a business mindset, and I carried that energy with me through university and into my corporate life. Similarly, I have always had a strong knack for the arts and a love of art and so when I had made the decision to embark on an entrepreneurial path the best blend was one that combined business and art (in the form of photography).

BNG: Part proceeds from the run will fund a paid placement on the BNG Internship Programme for a student from North Hamilton, providing professional development in all aspects of museum operations and opening the door to a career in the arts. Do you think that you would have turned to photography sooner if such opportunities had been open to you? What are the benefits of such experiences?

NB: I think that my path was destined to be the way it was. I don’t really look to my past as much as I believe that this is a great opportunity for someone else’s future! These are tough times for people and I am honored to be able to assist in giving someone an opportunity to create their own platform. I am also encouraged by the support from the corporate community – to see public and private coming together for positive change and creating opportunities for “non-corporate” career paths.

The BNG Run for the Arts 5k will bring race participants through several neighborhoods that have identified spaces for murals, including Pembroke Laundromat. Murals will be created by local artists who will submit their design for review and selection.

BNG: Alongside the internship, proceeds raised will finance a vibrant public art programme with the installation of one, or more, large scale murals in North Hamilton, to highlight and promote the community that you grew up in. What inspired this idea?

NB: A few years back, there was a person that had taken to the neighborhood walls with a spray-can and had written obscenities on various locations. I and some other people from the area paid to have the obscenities painted over. Within a few weeks the obscenities had returned in the same locations. We had them painted again. They haven’t returned, but it made me think that if these spaces are available, they can be canvases for either bad or good. I prefer the good. I am also a well-traveled individual and some of my favorite areas to frequent have vibrant art as far as the eye can see. I would love for the area to be a mecca of sorts for the arts and art enthusiasts.

Pembroke Park Playground Bathroom on Parsons Road, opposite the newly built Transformational Living Centre for Families, is the third location for the mural project. The murals will be selected by a committee including Nhuri Bashir, representatives of Bermuda National Gallery and selected community stakeholders.

BNG: Will you be running on April 23?

NB: Yes!

BNG: Why should people join you?

NB: It is a great cause and it’s a beautiful area. We can’t only talk about change – we can also be a part of it!

Click here to register for the BNG 5K Run for the Arts. Sponsored by Chubb, the event features a competitive run, along with a fun run/walk. It is open to all — those who consider themselves serious athletes, as well as those who don’t!