Artist’s ‘make-or-break’ show gets rave reviews as work is snapped up
A young artist believes a successful first solo show which opened to rave reviews will be the springboard for her future career.
Phoebe Hughes, 24, sold nine out of 14 paintings from her Bermudiana exhibition in only three days.
Ms Hughes said: "I think this is going to be a springboard for me. It’s given me a little bit more confidence and trust in my instincts when it comes to art.
“I wasn’t really sure if this would work or if people would respond well to it and honestly I think this show was a make-or-break point for me.
“Had the response been underwhelming, I probably would have had to course-correct my career choices.”
Bermudiana, which opened at the Masterworks Museum of Art on Friday, features several 55in by 45in oil paintings of every day Bermudians, as well as two paintings of Bermudian flora.
Ms Hughes said that she wanted to look at the people of Bermuda in a candid setting to show a side of the island overlooked by visitors.
She admitted that she found it difficult at first to ask strangers for their photographs, but added that people were so curious about her project that they were keen to participate.
Ms Hughes said: “So many people were so receptive to it – they were, as Bermudians are, just so generous.
“I actually have a pretty good relationship with a lot of the subjects.
“I gave them all a signed print as a way to say ‘thank you’ and some of them were actually at the show, which was really special.”
Ms Hughes started the project in the summer of 2020 as a way to rekindle her love for painting.
She told The Royal Gazettein January that she “fell out of love” with the medium and used the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to paint the subjects she was interested in and in her own style.
Ms Hughes said that Masterworks approached her last June for a solo exhibit. She worked nine hours every day for weeks to complete the project.
She was “overwhelmed’ by the positive responses to Bermudiana, with more than 150 people visiting the exhibit on the opening night.
Ms Hughes said: “I got really good responses on the first evening and way more paintings sold than I thought originally would.
“I feel really happy – I was really nervous before but it turned out better than I thought.”
She added: “A lot of tourists who have come to the island beforehand have bought prints because they say it reminds them so much of Bermuda.
“I think a lot of Bermudians, at least from the responses I’ve had, also think that it’s a new take because there’s not a lot of large-scale portraits on the island.”
Risa Hunter, the executive director of Masterworks, said: “Colourful, vibrant, and full of character, Bermudiana is a testament to the unique vitality of the island.
“Phoebe's masterful depictions of people within the local community, in addition to her beautiful renditions of Bermuda foliage, exemplify her perceptive eye and fresh talent.
“Masterworks is honoured to be a part of Phoebe's first solo exhibition – we know she will soar to great heights in her fine arts career and we can't wait to see where she goes.”
Bermudiana will finish on July 12.