Bermuda Triangle inspires artist
Artistically, Fayelle Wharton Bush has gone through a lot of change in the past decade.
Her exhibit at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art is testament to that. It opens on Friday with a series of encaustic works titled, Bermuda Vibrations 2020.
Ms Wharton Bush’s last show, nearly a decade ago, was a display of collages created with antique Bermuda postcards.
Textiles occupied her in the period that followed. A line of tropical fabrics she designed can be seen at Azura Boutique Hotel & Residences, the Warwick property developed by her husband John Bush.
“I have put that aside to learn what I can about encaustic work,” she said. “I am fascinated by the liquidity of the medium and controlling it all with a heat gun, which sometimes graduates to a blow torch. The smell of the wax pieces is intoxicating … you have to seriously ventilate your workspace, especially as I also use resin and a lot of shellac in the work.”
She was introduced to the art form by her late sister-in-law, Elaine Anthony, who used hot wax to seal her paintings. A year-and-a-half ago, Ms Wharton Bush started experimenting.
“I decided I was going to try it because I love having things like Lucite and glass on top of things; it gives depth to everything.”
She bought the necessary materials, did a lot of online research, “read a lot of books and just started in”.
“It’s been a ball,” Ms Wharton Bush said.
She began her career as an artist in a similar way, feeling her way through it rather than signing up for formal lessons.
“I was born into a family of creatives – writers, poets, architects, artists and marine model makers,” the 62-year-old said. “Despite access to many wonderful art courses throughout high school and college I took my one and only art course at age 40.
“I was inspired by my sister-in-law, Elaine Anthony, who was a fantastic artist and who, unfortunately, passed away early at the threshold of her creativity. At that moment the impetus for art was awakened in me and I started experimenting with collage and acrylics and now I’m on to encaustic works. I have no formal training but I feel that’s where the excitement lies – experimentation!”
A handful of exhibits at Masterworks showcased her collage work. At the Bermuda Society of Arts, Ms Wharton Bush put her photographic skills on display.
“And then I started designing fabrics and that has sort of led me to this point,” she said, explaining that Bermuda Vibrations was postponed from April because of Covid-19. “This is a pretty huge departure. I have no idea what the reaction’s going to be. It’s very contemporary compared to what I’ve done in the past.
“My previous shows have been all about embedding foliage in collage – not surprising as I grew up in the garden with my mother. The attraction to metals and wood in combination stems from my father who ran Ingham & Wilkinson lumberyard on Front Street and made nautical models as a hobby. I am content to be in a hardware store, a marine fittings store, a workshop or a mill any day and I know it’s about all the smells, sights and sounds of my young daily life.”
Bermuda Vibrations pays homage to her love of triangles and the Bermuda Triangle’s “mystical status”. A mix of wax and resin, the encaustic medium enabled her to fulfil her dream of having “a show with many small pieces, so the work is accessible to all”.
“Bermuda Vibrations is about the energy that flows below us and above us on this tiny island out here in the Atlantic alone,” Ms Wharton Bush explained. “It’s about floating on top of the earth’s core layers and layers of energy below the crust, in the ocean, on the land and in the skies.”
Despite the long break she decided to exhibit again because she couldn’t stop creating art.
“My work has changed drastically since my last exhibit. The medium has completely changed. I’ve been out of the limelight for so long without having shows; it’s not like I have some kind of big name recognition.
“When you create so much work, if it doesn’t exit from your life it doesn’t feel cathartic unless it has a chance of leaving your life and going into somebody else’s life. It’s just funny that way when you’re doing art. You just can’t just keep building it up.”
With so much more to learn, her plan is to continue working with wax for the foreseeable future.
“I’m just at the tip of the iceberg. Normally when people work with wax they do a lot of embedding, pushing things into the wax; it can be very rough looking. A lot of what I’ve got coming out almost looks like lacquer – there’s a bit of texture and then there’s a smoothness. As far as I’m concerned I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of learning.”
Bermuda Vibrations 2020 opens Friday at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art