Art inspired by island’s colours
Artist Zoe Dyson Hedstrom has been living in Greenwich, Connecticut, for years. However, the colours of a New England autumn and winter, have never really caught on with her.
Instead, she prefers the bright hues of her island birthplace.
“All of my work is motivated by Bermuda,” she said.
“There are no colours like the colours in Bermuda. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Bermuda.”
It was the island’s pinks, blues and greens that she poured into her entry for a public art display competition in Bermuda earlier this year.
Last month she was one of 12 local artists chosen to display work at the LF Wade International Airport’s new terminal in St George’s.
Her piece in the new terminal will consist of a large shadow box depicting Bermuda’s colours and architecture in a contemporary, cubist style.
It will not be the first piece of her art work to grace the airport. In August 2018, she won the Current Vehicles and Masterworks Twizy Design Competition. Her winning entry sat in the arrival’s terminal for several months.
“I think the last time I came through it was gone,” she said.
She plans to create her shadow box out of wood in the design and engineering lab at Greenwich Academy in Connecticut, where she teaches.
“It will take some fabrication,” she laughed. “I’ll bring it back to Bermuda in pieces and assemble it here.”
Ms Hedstrom does not know when it will be on display, but her deadline is in March.
She grew up on Longford Hill in Warwick. Her father Archdeacon Thomas Dyson was the minister at St Mary’s.
She was a good student at Warwick Academy and went off to Marlborough College, a boarding school in Wiltshire, England, after doing her O-levels.
“I was going off to do some big whoop-de-doo thing, but then life just takes a different turn,” she said.
An art teacher at the school, Robin Child, inspired an interest in art in her. Mr Child, head of the art department at Marlborough was a bit of a legend in his day. Today, his daughter, Lauren Child, is well known for writing and illustrating the Charlie and Lola books.
After secondary school, Ms Hedstrom had the chance to study art and education at university, but decided to do something more practical.
“I became a physiotherapist,” she said.
She trained at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, but always kept up with her art.
“Art has always been my passion,” she said.
“I kept doing classes everywhere. This summer, I was at the Royal College of Art in London, doing a class.
“Life turns out in funny ways. We were living away. The school in Connecticut, where my daughter was attending needed a part-time art teacher and they asked me.
“Now I have an interest in digital art and technology. That is the way I am headed. Just recently, they asked if I would move into their engineering and design lab.”
She does not regret becoming a physiotherapist.
“It all adds up to the adventure of life,” she said.
“I had a career at one stage that allowed me to work at The New York Hospital and then Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital, for example.
Now, I’ve ended up doing what I wanted to do back then anyway. And I have a lovely daughter, Lulu, as a result of the journey I took. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, ‘life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’.”
One of her challenges as an artist, is gaining acceptance and acknowledgement, given the vast amount of talent that exists.
“If one is wanting to make money off of art, there is the added challenge of finding clients or a gallery space or a dealer,” she said.
Ms Hedstrom said it was also sometimes hard, just to find the time to create.
She does not necessarily create to sell.
“I do it simply for the pleasure and the challenge,” Ms Hedstrom said.
“If people love the work and want to buy it, that’s an added bonus. I sell some; I give some away, I let some sit in a corner waiting to be discovered!”
Last year, her art was selected for Art Elevated, a public-art initiative launched by the Garment District Alliance in Manhattan, New York. Art Elevated prints the work of various artists on to large banners and hangs them up high, around the city
“One piece I did was a snippet of a piece from Bermuda,” Ms Hedstrom said. “It was placed outside a hotel. The other piece was of the Queen.”
Her work has also won awards in Masterwork’s annual Charman Prize competition. This year, she also won an award from Artrepreneur in the United States, for her digital art portfolio. But she is humble.
“Either people love your work or they don’t,” she said. “I am one of those people who just love to create.”
Still, she has been thrilled to receive e-mails from visitors to the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, who have seen one of her pieces on show there.
“They ask if I could sell them a poster of the piece or something,” she said.
“They say it just makes them think of the colours of Bermuda. When they go back home, they would like to see that one on their wall. The first message like that I got I thought ‘wow, that is the nicest thing. It is nice when that happens, even if I don’t have posters of it’.”
She simply wants people to get pleasure from her work.
“I want them to get a sense of connection to a place, person or thing,” she said.
“Occasionally, there is a message. One particular message I’ve explored in recent works is in connection to overbuilding and the resulting lack of arable land in Bermuda.”
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