Art borne of lockdown boredom
When Covid-19 forced Bermuda into lockdown, Kimmisha Perinchief began painting.
She was still buzzing over the first-ever sale of one of her works at the beginning of the year, and had quickly become bored of having to shelter in place.
“I’ve always been into art. I’ve always liked painting,” said Ms Perinchief who, with her sister Charda Simons, designs the brand Street Lux. “I started painting on clothing and then it morphed into a clothing line but, it started as painting.”
She ultimately created 44 pieces. A “culmination of random thoughts” during the island’s lockdown period, the works are now on display at the Bermuda Society of Arts in a solo exhibit, Noia Di Blocco.
“It means lockdown boredom in Italian,” reads Ms Perinchief’s artist statement. “[This] has been a weird year, a year of long periods without social interactions and long periods of reflection. During our recent Covid-19 lockdown and recovery/reopening period, I was able to spend time reflecting on things that were around me: local news, international events, sports, music, local traditions, fashion, friends, family, movies, television, social media and radio.
“There is no one defining inspiration for the artwork other than what was on my mind at that time or something that I saw that excited me artistically. Some things are just what they are randomly and beautifully; my art is just that: random and beautiful.”
Aside from art classes as a child, she hasn’t had any formal lessons. While in school her focus was architecture.
“I was always interested in designing; painting wasn’t always my number one choice of a form of art,” said Ms Perinchief, whose 9 to 5 has her drawing fire safety and prevention plans.
“The art thing … I would just pick up my brush from time to time and just paint. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child. I wasn’t serious about it.”
With paint, brushes and canvases already in her house, she stared working once the pandemic hit.
“I did, from time to time, enter my paintings to the art galleries,” she said. “And my sister’s an artist. She has a degree in art and we kind of just have paint and stuff around the house.”
Ms Perinchief paints with acrylics; most of her works are created on pieces of wood that she cuts and paints on.
“I have a carpenter friend and I just asked him if I could use his jigsaw and he gave me a, not even a five-minute crash course. He just told me: don’t lose my fingers.
“I just started using it from there.”
YouTube helped as did the research she did on the types of wood which were most appropriate for wall hangings.
A gombey – with traditional hat and mask – is about 3ft; there’s a dancing Michael Jackson and a bird in flight.
Having amassed a collection, a friend suggested she hold a solo exhibition.
“I was like, no. I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m ready for that. And it just went from there.”
After a quick call to BSoA she determined the Edinburgh Gallery was available in two months time if she wanted it.
“This was the end of August,” Ms Perinchief said. “I was like, I think I have enough stuff. I could do it. [Gallery director Nzingha Ming] told me that a good amount of pieces was like 15. At that point I had might have had like seven.
“I was like, yeah I could do eight more in the next six weeks. Everybody in my house was like, you can do it.”
Eight pieces turned into 37, bringing the total to 44.
“And these are all 2020 works,” the artist said. “They’re not things from last year or three years ago. Everything in this show is from this year.
“I didn’t even realise I had that many until they counted them. I come up with ideas and then I just paint. That’s what happened. I don’t even know how to sugar-coat it.”
The exhibit will likely come as a surprise to many as most people who know her don’t know that she’s an artist.
“I don’t even know that I would call myself that,” she said. “I don’t talk about it with too many people, I just do it. When I’m at home I just pick up my paintbrush – touch up here, touch up there.”
As such, she is “absolutely a little bit nervous” about having a show even though the response so far has been good.
“People are amazed: You’ve been doing this all this time? That’s making me excited, to know that people actually like it so far.”
Whether she will continue exhibiting her work depends on how she feels about having to produce work.
"I like it but maybe I don’t like the pressure of it. Maybe sometimes I just want to do it because I want to do it. After this [show], depending on the response that I get, maybe I’ll get more excited by it and continue to do it.
"Really what got me excited was when I entered [Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art’s] Charman Prize and someone bought my painting. I got excited from that. It’s kind of what motivated me. I was like: ’Oh, somebody likes my work.’“
• Noia Di Blocco runs in the Edinburgh Gallery of the Bermuda Society of Arts until November 8