Artists scale heights of creativity

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Exhibitions, Bermuda Society of Arts

The four distinctly different exhibitions currently on show at the Bermuda Society of Arts provide for all kinds of differing preferences and tastes. The flexibility in laying out the gallery, allows BSoA to arrange their space so that several exhibitions can be held at the same time or, if desired, a large, single exhibition as was the case with the recent schools show.

The exhibitions are: BSoA showcase: Art in Progress (Edinburgh Gallery); Bermuda College Student Art Show 2013 (Onions Gallery); De Boys Day Out Club (Studio A); Fayelle Wharton Bush (Studio B).

Examples of work from three recently conducted evening and weekend workshops are on show In the Edinburgh Gallery. All emphasise the development of drawing skills. The three workshops are: Botanical Illustration taught by Margaret Best, Drawing with Emma Ingham and an open life drawing session every Tuesday evening. Some of the artists represented in this show are Diana Amos, Vernon Clark, Mary Flatres, Vivienne Gardner, John Gardner, Molly Godet, Kate Harte, Katie Ogilivie, Jill Amos Raine, Jackie Stevenson, Vanessa Turner and Stephen West.

The ability to draw well is of fundamental importance to the artist. The interesting thing about this small exhibition however, is that most of the participants are established artists with already impressive drawing skills. It seems that they are taking these workshops just to hone and practice observational drawing techniques, and that is commendable.

Over the years that I have been writing art reviews however, it has been my observation that many beginners jump right into painting, without first developing their drawing skills. I know from personal experience that improving one’s drawing skills will also improves one's painting skills. I would have thought that more beginners would have availed themselves of the opportunity to take these workshops.

The annual Bermuda College Student Art Show is on exhibit in the Onions Gallery and again, there is a heavy emphasis on drawing. Since these are supposedly serious art students, it is vital that they learn to draw and the College requires 12 credits in drawing when pursuing the two-year art and design associate in arts degree.

Despite the programme's requirements, this year's exhibition, with a few exceptions, is no more than average. I have seen better shows in previous years. I was especially drawn, however, to a large charcoal drawing of an eyelash curler by Amanda Perry. Her emphasis on the negative space as opposed to the actual tool is very perceptive and in that respect, I understand that she was inspired by the drawings of American pop-artist Jim Dine.

There are also several large, black silhouettes on show that depict various phobias, such as a fear of heights, or of blood, spiders, cats etc, that are placed in strategic locations around the exhibition. Most graphic is the silhouette of a man hanging by his fingers from the top of one of the gallery's very high windows. You sense his fear of heights.

Along the north wall is a group of large figure drawings. Each drawing is on brown paper, many having been drawn with white, plus other coloured drawing materials. It is obvious in making these drawings that the students had to stand at an easel or at least, work on a large, flat surface. In other words, they had to use their entire arm in gestural sweeps rather than with hand-held pencil or pen in limited motions generated from the wrist. This is an important and necessary drawing exercise in ridding the student of less than desirable habits, that normally ends up as tight, tiny but tidy drawings. With large gestural drawings, one possible aim goal is to produce interesting variations in line quality.

De Boys Day Out Club, which was founded by Milton Richardson, is exhibiting their delightful creations in Studio A. Several are imaginative dioramas, as well as paintings and two models of the Queen of Bermuda. This organisation is currently being mentored by Milton Hill, who has taken under his care a number of youngsters and is giving them encouragement through the arts. What Mr Hill is doing is not only commendable, it should make us all happy. What I saw of this exhibit is so delightful and, although I cannot say that these are youngsters at risk, I did read only a few days ago about a programme in California that is using the arts successfully to deal with young people who are at risk. Given our current social difficulties however, it seems that many of our young people, just by the fact that they are surrounded by gangs and youth violence, are at risk of being swept into the gang orbit. The members of this club who are exhibiting are Khiry Mello, Daniel Sanchez, Jawed Sheeheed, Malachi Sheeheed, Luke Smith and Aaron Wales.

In Studio B, there is another highly commendable show that is worth every effort to see. Here, Fayelle Wharton Bush is exhibiting 23 symmetrical compositions that showcase her interaction between collected plant matter and a computerised scanner. The resulting pictures are stunning, to say the least and ends up looking like large coloured etchings. She uses a standard scanner to produce her creations, but then has them enlarged by Colourlab. This small exhibition is big in surprises, plus this artist is utilising technology in a such a creative manner, it looks like she had a great deal of fun in making it.

The exhibitions end on April 18.

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Published Apr 17, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm)

Artists scale heights of creativity

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