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Supporting local talent through art prize

Insurance boss John Charman is an avid art collector, who also believes in supporting artists.

He gives away $21,000 to talented artists through the Charman Prize.

The biennial event, open to resident artists and Bermudians overseas, is shown at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

What's your interest in the arts?

My interest in art is the same as my interest in life, it is critical to my well-being in every aspect.

Are you an artist?

No, I regret that I am worse than hopeless. However, I do believe that I have a very good eye for great artwork, whatever the medium.

How long have you collected art?

I have collected artwork seriously since I worked for a Hong Kong Chinese shipping family in 1981.

The overwhelming experience of seeing so many beautiful and irreplaceable artefacts throughout the Orient was a life-changing experience for me.

Those artefacts, many over 1,300 to 1,500 years old, form the heart of my personal collection, most of which I collected in the 1980s when few collectors were interested in Asian art.

I am an eclectic collector, ranging from traditional to modern, from glass to sculpture to paintings, all with a truly global perspective.

What was your first big purchase? Most sentimental purchase?

My first really big purchase was in the late 1980s of a group of nine lady polo players from the Tang Dynasty — all different and beautifully mounted on nine large steeds. I am unaware of another collection globally. My most sentimental purchase is a five-foot seated Buddha from the 6th century, beautifully carved in stone and wonderfully intact — he sits just outside our bedroom in Atlanta and watches over our family.

Do you have a favourite Bermudian or a Bermuda-based artist?

Anyone who is committed enough to want to be a valued member of the artists' community here on our Island. I am not interested in elitism.

Aim of the prize?

To encourage excellence and personal achievement at every level throughout our community, the same qualities and goals that I strive for in my personal and corporate life.

This year's competition won't have a theme. There's also some new cash prizes — $5,000 for a non-professional artist that shows exceptional promise and $2,000 from each judge to the artist whose work most impresses them. Why the changes?

Change is an important element of our everyday lives. The Charman Prize must evolve to stay relevant, meaningful and enjoyable.

Surely you have plenty to keep you busy. Why not just give your money to Masterworks each year? Why bother with a prize?

Masterworks, its exhibits and, importantly, its people, to me represents and embodies everything that is truly inspirational.

It is such an essential yet much undervalued part of the well-being of our Island — giving money, however much, is easy; to care, participate, encourage and share is what life is all about!

• Charman Prize entry forms are available at www.bermudamasterworks.com under exhibitions and at Masterworks. Deadline for entry is 5pm on June 25. For more information contact Kate Ross on 299-4000 or artmworks@logic.bm

Good eye: John Charman started collecting art in Asia in the 1980s

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Published March 30, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm)

Supporting local talent through art prize

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