State of the art

  • Isaiah Camara (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Isaiah Camara (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

It is a relatively new campus but the walls of the Berkeley Institute still breathe with history. Alumni and students are celebrating the school’s 120th anniversary with an art exhibit that includes work from the 1930s.

Isaiah Camara, one of 45 pupils involved, has submitted two portraits from a series depicting his classmates.

They will hang alongside the likes of Charles Lloyd Tucker, Bermuda’s first black professionally trained artist, who became the Pembroke school’s first art teacher in 1954.

“I was never really doing portraits like that so I wanted to try something new,” the 17-year-old, who prefers landscapes, said.

“I thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of people I know and incorporate that into the portrait to match their personalities.”

A butterflies and flora motif mark the “nature” girl while dripping paint and psychedelic patterns match his “artsy” friend.

Isaiah joined the school’s GCSE art and design programme with an eye to having a career in fashion art direction.

“Basically working with magazines and creating sets for photo shoots,” he explained.

“I’ve always had a love for art. I like seeing a finished piece.

“I like creating something out of nothing — making scenes, bringing everyone’s ideas or imaginations into something real.”

Art teacher Christine Wellman highlighted several past students who focused on the arts: Ayo Salawu is studying architecture in Bristol; Gherdai Hassell is living and painting in China; former head boy Aden Peets earned a degree in art and sound in Manchester; Marquedelle Rodriguez is studying film in India; Zoe Lopes is studying graphic design in the UK; Sckye Dickenson is set to study jewellery at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Ms Wellman’s alma mater.

“They have so much scope now that when we were going to school we did not have,” said the teacher who has been at Berkeley for 12 years and teaching for 34.

“When I’m teaching, I’m not necessarily teaching for a student to take it further, but we have a nice population that will take it seriously and will build on a foundation. It’s not the easiest thing to do but it’s possible to take it into a profession.”

Asked if the resources on island have helped him reach his dreams, Isaiah said, “Yes and no.”

“There aren’t many people that do what I want to do here so finding mentors is hard but in regards to art, the culture and colour, yes.

“They always push me. Ms Wellman will always tell me to go the extra mile or try something new or what I’m not comfortable with.”

He rendered the portraits on computer paper using coloured pencil, a medium he favours.

“In terms of blending and colour I feel like I get more out of it,” he explained.

But Ms Wellman added: “He’s a very good painter as well, but he’s very humble.

“From the beginning I could tell that he had something special.

“He would produce these fantastic things but I would want to push him out of his comfort zone, so he would have to come up with new ways of doing things.

“I teach to my passion and my strength. I think Charles Lloyd Tucker would be very happy to see this.”

The Berkeley Institute’s 120th anniversary show runs until April 21

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Published Apr 16, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 16, 2018 at 12:02 am)

State of the art

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