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Creative Smith family showcase talents at BSoA

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Khyber Pass by Edwin Smith (Photograph supplied)

Edwin Smith and sons present Cowpass2: when put that way it sounds like some kind of business enterprise. Well, in reality, it kind of is.

It’s an art enterprise and the subject currently is a revisitation of the Smith family’s neighbourhood, which is centred around Khyber Pass or, as is suggested, Cow Pass.

It’s an art exhibition on show at the Bermuda Society of Arts at City Hall.

The Smiths had a go at the same subject some 21 years ago, hence the attachment of the number two this time around.

Father Edwin Smith, PhD is a well-known versatile visual artist, being mostly a painter. He is also an educator and a professor of fine art at Bermuda College. Son Micrae is a paper maker and mixed-media artist, while son Stefan is a photographer.

I have recently been mulling over the fact that the larger Bermuda community is made up of a number of smaller neighbourhoods, each having a particular identity but also holding much in common with other small neighbourhoods.

These neighbourhoods formed back in the day before cars or much else in the way of public transportation. People tended then to stay put in their respective neighbourhoods, which formed often around a school, church, post office, grocery store, etc.

Nowadays, what with cars, mopeds and so on, our traditional neighbourhoods are morphing into a much more fluid precinct and the old loyalty to one’s territory is not as strong as once was. This is also due to the development of mega secondary schools, which are centrally located and no longer a part of a particular neighbourhood.

Edwin Smith, centre, and his sons Micrae and Stefan combined their talents for Cowpass2 now on at BSoA (Photograph supplied)

Still, despite changes, these traditional neighbourhoods remain viable sub-communities.

Enough about neighbourhoods.

Cowpass2 Exhibition: Intersection I, Edwin Smith. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Now to the exhibition, Cowpass2.

Edwin and his sons make up one of the most creative families among the whole of the Bermuda art community.

Matthew Johnston admires Edwin Smith’s Convergence / Divergence, meticulously crafted from duct tape (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Usually it’s just the three of them that exhibit together but several years ago, when exhibiting at Gallery 117, Edwin’s wife Shirley Ann got in on the act. The pawpaw was the theme of the show and Mrs Smith got in on the act with the culinary aspect – a book of pawpaw recipes that had been tried and tested in the Smith kitchen.

Edwin seemingly has the uncanny ability to make – with sweeping, gestural brushstrokes – marks that land in the right place in the composition. It gives his paintings a considerable energy but also sets us all wondering just how he was able to conjure such magic.

Very recently, he has been using monochromatic tones of duct tape as his material of choice in making a work of art. On the north wall of the Bermuda Society of Arts is a striking example. It is #35 in the show catalogue with the title, Convergence and Divergence. In that work, I detected the influence of Matisse and his cutouts.

Late in his career, Matisse who was elderly and often bedridden, began utilising coloured paper in which he would cut out various organic shapes, which an assistant would then attach to a composition as directed by the artist. Some similar shapes appear in Edwin’s composition’s.

Knowing that duct tape comes in many different colours, I asked him why he limited his choice to black, greys and white. He stated that that was a personal preference.

I recall that Goethe, the German polymath, stated that “limitations bring out the master”.

Edwin’s son Stefan also often works within limitations. In this show he is exhibiting photographs of weathered, textured rock cuttings. The dominant colour is grey but, in several, there is an intrusion of a bit of greenery, such as a tuft of grass or a bit of palm frond.

Meanwhile, Micrae creates a highly organic paper within which are what appears to be seeds or other organic matter. In several he has attached a shard of rusty iron that contrasts nicely with the textured handmade paper.

In several instances he has collaborated with his father on works of art.

In this exhibition you will discover and see examples of pure painting, collage, collaboration, handmade paper, duct-tape art, mixed-media and photography. In other words, a utilisation of a variety of techniques and materials.

This is an exhibition that all art lovers will want to see and should see. It certainly comes with my recommendation.

• Cowpass2 continues at the Bermuda Society of Arts through October 17

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Published September 30, 2023 at 7:26 am (Updated September 30, 2023 at 6:51 am)

Creative Smith family showcase talents at BSoA

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