As the school year draws to a close, we are thrilled to welcome Louisa Bermingham onboard as the Bermuda National Gallery Education Officer. The artist, who trained in textile design before doing a Masters of Art in education, currently teaches art at Paget Primary and sits on the Education Ministry’s Art Curriculum Revising Committee.
Louisa will split her time between the public school system and the gallery, creating opportunities for the BNG to continue to expand its support for art education in Bermuda’s schools whilst leading new approaches in the field.
She has an extensive history with the Bermuda National Gallery; both as an artist and educator, having served as Education Director from 1999 to 2002, during which time she started the gallery’s education outreach from scratch.
Her first point of call for 2020 will be the summer camp programme, in which she will lead students through the exploration of a variety of art mediums and materials, from drawing, sculpture, printmaking and textiles to integrating technology in the form of stop motion animation and digital drawing.
We caught up with Louisa to discuss her vision for the Bermuda National Gallery education programme and how she plans to cement the BNG as the premier resource for art education at all levels of learning.
BNG: You have a long standing relationship with the gallery as an artist. Some of your early work resides in the gallery’s permanent collection. Could you please talk us through your practice?
LB: My artistic practice over the years has progressed from large scale charcoal drawings, to very small scale mixed media and currently painting and ceramics. Each stage has been a reflection of my interests at the time, starting from a fascination with elements from folklore to my mixed media works She was a Hairy Bear, She was Scary Bear which reflect personal observations about life and my role as a woman in it.
My Hairy Bear work has just been published as a little book, which is carried at the Bermuda Book Store. Currently, I am working on what I call my happy paintings, which are simple explorations of composition using floral still life and interiors as subject matter. Concurrently with the paintings I’ve been experimenting with ceramics expressing an alternate sculptural dimension for my Hairy Bear series amongst other things.
BNG: You have exhibited numerous times in the Bermuda Biennial as well as the group show Re-Interpreting The European Collection in 2011. How has your relationship with the BNG influenced your trajectory as an artist?
LB: I have found the Bermuda National Gallery provides the incentive to reach for as an artist, from the opportunities provided by applying for the Biennial to the public lectures, discussions and forums to come together to learn and express opinions.
Being included in the Biennials and having work included in the permanent collection has given me the artistic boost and confidence to continue my work. In the same way, being rejected from the Biennial has given me the same boost if that makes sense. It’s made me introspective and critical of my work that has allowed me to grow as an artist. I appreciate both.
BNG: You have over 20 years teaching experience, having taught across the island in both public and private schools as well as the college. How has this shaped your approach as a teacher?
LB: I started teaching at Dellwood middle school in 1997 and have taught the entire range of ages from preschool to adult learners in a broad spectrum of institutions. Having such a broad teaching experiences provides me with a high level of confidence and comfort in my ability. What truly stands out is how my teaching and interacting with students of all ages informs my art work and my art process. It may be something small – perhaps the way a child interprets the meaning of an art image – that is completly new to me but deeply engaging and alternative.
BNG: Why is art so key for children?
LB: Art is integral to child development. It allows for self expression and breeds confidence. The tools, equipment and materials of art making greatly enhance motor development. It also provides an outlet for critical thinking, self reflection and team work all of which heighten learning across the entire school curriculum. Art provides communication tools and analytical thinking skills. Art ensures an avenue for explorations in accountability and how to deal with and learn from mistakes.
Join Louisa at the Bermuda National Gallery 2020 Art + Tech Camp for a summer of fun exploring a variety of art mediums and materials. The camp will be held in the gallery, which will be closed to the public during the week, immersing the students in the 2020 Bermuda Biennial which will serve as the starting point for their projects.
The camp is aimed at students aged 11 to 14 years. Cost: $200 per week for BNG family members/ $250 for non members. Bursaries are available for public school students, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.
The camp runs from the 13th July through to the 28th August. Booking is limited to one week per student. Hours are 9am – 3pm Monday to Friday at the Bermuda National Gallery, City Hall & Arts Center, Hamilton.
Click HERE to register!