New York latest stop on Trevor’s voyage of self-discovery
Trevor Todd went to Australia to learn traditional aboriginal music and came away with a budding career in the visual arts.
That career comes into full bloom next month with a solo exhibition in New York City’s Heath Gallery.
Before going to Australia in 2005, the 46-year-old was a stone cutter in a quarry in Bermuda. He is gaining an international reputation for his aborigine-inspired art, which uses many small dots to construct a picture.
Seventeen pieces of his work will be on display at the New York gallery as part of his show, Cosmic Journeys: Collective Memories of the Afro Diaspora Reflections from Garmafest to Gombey.
“I went to Australia to learn how to play the traditional aboriginal instrument, the didgeridoo,” he said. “I went to do that, but then I found out that the aboriginal culture is rich in spoken word, instruments and also in art.”
While at the Garma Festival, an annual aboriginal celebration in Australia, he took a master class in the didgeridoo.
“While sitting in a ring listening to someone play, this older lady told me to sit down next to her,” said Mr Todd. “When I sat next to her, she said: ‘tonight I adopt you and that old man is your father’ and then she pointed out the man playing the didgeridoo to me.”
During his stay with his new clan he became fascinated by aboriginal art. He learned traditional painting methods, and asked his new family if he could do aboriginal art when he returned to Bermuda. They gave their blessing.
“At that time, I wasn’t an artist,” he said. “Me becoming an artist was the result of me going to Australia. The people there inspired me to become what I am. I think not too many people knew when I came back that I wanted to be an artist. It wasn’t until my first art show in 2006 that people began to know me that way. That was when I knew, ‘yeah, this is what I want to do’. I am very surprised it has gone this far. I am excited to be having a show at the Heath Gallery because it is like a dream come true — finding my own voice and then being able to have the experiences in life and express them through this vehicle.”
The work in the exhibition will demonstrate how his talent has developed since he first took up a brush. Visitors to the gallery will see his early works, heavily influenced by the aboriginal style, and more recent works from his series Abstract Continuum, in a mixed media style. These pieces are more concerned with issues relating to the African Diaspora and Bermuda’s role in it.
In one piece from this series, Africa is represented by a series of black, rubbery footprints. There are faint traces of footprints across the ocean around Africa. The picture is called Lost and Stolen Souls and tells the story of black-on-black violence.
“We are all aware of [black-on-black violence] and affected by it in our community in Bermuda yet, it is a global situation,” he said. “[Lost and Stolen Souls] is a found object piece. On my walks to the beach by my house, I collect bits and pieces of things most people call garbage. I see art. I think my work has progressed a lot since I started.”
The show came about through a friendship with Patrick Earl Burns, a New York resident affiliated with the Heath Gallery. They were introduced by a Bermudian architect living in New York, Warren Fray.
“Every time I go to New York, I hang out with Patrick,” said Mr Todd. “Last year when I was in New York doing three months of courses he suggested that I have a solo art show at the Heath Gallery. He is going to be the curator of the show.”
Mr Todd said he has not yet been back to Australia, but he would like to one day.
“I am working towards that,” he said.
He is also working at his art full-time, an effort which has had its ups and downs.
“With everything you do you will learn something about yourself,” he said. “I am on a journey of self-exploration.”
The show runs from February 8 to March 4 at 24 West 120th Street. Contact Mr Todd on 536-2787 or email@example.com.
Useful websites: www.co2arts.com and heathgallery.squarespace.com.