Teaching the masters

  • Changing attitudes about art: artist Nuno Patricio is hoping to change people’s mindset about art in his new position as education coordinator at Masterworks  (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Changing attitudes about art: artist Nuno Patricio is hoping to change people’s mindset about art in his new position as education coordinator at Masterworks (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Old school techniques: Nuno Patricio is hoping to change how people think about art (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Old school techniques: Nuno Patricio is hoping to change how people think about art (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Nuno Patricio hugged his family goodbye in 1999 thinking it was the end of his idyllic life in Bermuda.

They were staying. He was to live in his home country Portugal, where he had just completed a master’s degree in fine arts.

He couldn’t believe it when he was given the opportunity to come back.

“I’ve always felt more like I’m from Bermuda than Europe,” said Mr Patricio whose parents, Jose and Maria Patricio, live here as well as his sister Joanne. “I would visit about every other year, but not in a million years did I think I might return here and live, especially to work at Masterworks. It’s something that I would never have imagined.”

The 42-year-old took on the role of education co-ordinator at the Paget gallery at the start of this month.

His hope is to get Bermuda’s students as interested in art as he is. “I love to teach,” he said. “I want my students to get the feeling that art is important. When I was studying art it was seen as non-important.

“Lately, I have seen positive changes but art has traditionally been looked at as a secondary thing in life.

“When a child told their parents they wanted to be an artist, [the typical response was] why not a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist?

“Where does art come in? It’s going to take a while to change that completely, but I think that attitude is dying.”

He feels fortunate to have been able to follow his passion.

“Since I was little, I always loved to draw and colour. I would go into my room and draw all the time. I guess I always loved art,” he said.

That interest was fostered once he moved here from Portugal in 1988, at age 12.

Mr Patricio studied at Paget Primary School, Northlands Secondary School and Mount Saint Agnes before returning to Europe for university. “My father came from Portugal a year earlier,” he said. “He was here almost a year by himself and we came after that. I didn’t know anything about Bermuda.

“I knew how to speak English because I had English at school and after school.

“But, coming to Bermuda, I was a bit nervous. I knew I was going to change schools so I felt apprehensive about that.”

As it turned out, he loved it.

“Bermuda became a part of me from my school years, and even after I went to Europe to study art,” the teacher said. “I did a five-year master’s programme.

“I studied everything from sculpture to painting to drawing to anatomy with real, naked models. I also studied European art history.

“I decided to remain in Portugal after graduation because I met my wife and I started to work as a teacher, at a private school called Externato João Alberto Faria, right after.

“It’s a school with approximately 1,500 students and 120-plus teachers. I taught visual arts to kids from ages 9 through 14.”

Still, especially with his family here, Bermuda was often on his mind.

“To return to Bermuda I knew I would need a work permit,” he said. “The opportunity came when I saw the ad in The Royal Gazette.

“I considered applying because I [had fallen] in love with the gallery, the surroundings. And to be able to teach art around masterpieces ...”

He was “over the moon” when he learnt he’d been hired: “Apart from my work, the best part is to be able to live close to my family and friends.”

He started this month teaching art programmes to children ages 5 through 13.

“We have lots of projects — everything from mixed media to origami to acrylics.

“And starting in September, I’ll be doing after-school art classes for kids and older students.

“I will be bringing in my old-school techniques learnt in Europe — sketching and drawing, the ABCs of art.

“Students are going to learn about this art movement, that art movement; this style, that style.

“They’ll do their own projects using [various] techniques and then go home and tell their parents about it.

“But before that, it’s important they learn how to observe. In order to observe, your mind has to catch features, colour, textures from objects, light, shadow.

“Students are so much more into technology these days; many don’t know how to observe.

“Art equals creativity and creativity is an important factor to human development alongside decision-making, visual learning, awareness and inventiveness. These are extremely important factors to any human being.”

Learn more about the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art here: www.bermudamasterworks.org

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Published Jul 19, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 19, 2018 at 3:33 am)

Teaching the masters

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