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Art scholarships help students pursue their dreams

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Painter Samantha Gosling recipient of the Bank of Butterfield's Visual Arts scholarship.

When applying for general scholarships, it's hard for a painter to compete with someone studying medicine or actuarial science.

That's why the Bank of Butterfield created the $10,000 Visual Arts Award for Bermudians studying the fine arts and this year's recipients are Samantha Gosling, 20 and Jessica Dismont, 26.

"In Bermuda, it is very hard to find an art scholarship," said Miss Gosling, who is going into her third year at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

"My mother, Beth, has been struggling over the years to figure out what to do. So I was so happy to get this money."

Miss Gosling said her art talent was first noticed by her pediatrician when she was a baby.

"He asked my mother to get me to draw a picture of myself," she said. "That's how they assess your development. She brought in a picture of a stick figure of myself, and the doctor didn't believe I'd done it without her help. He said I must be talented."

She said both her parents, Greg and Beth Gosling, have been very supportive of her art.

"They told me they would prefer me to go to art school than do something I wasn't really interested in," she said. "Both of my parents are very good at art. My father is an architect."

Miss Gosling attended the Bermuda High School for Girls where she obtained honours in her General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam in arts.

She went on to the Willisden Boarding School in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she applied herself to getting into her dream university RISD.

"It was probably the most amazing feeling when I got in," she said. "I have been there for two years now.

"I often stay up all night in the studio. Everyone piles in at 3 a.m. My freshman year I probably got sleep three days a week.

"Art takes longer than writing an essay. But I enjoy it a lot. I have probably improved more in the last two years than I have in my entire life, which is really great."

Although she is interested in becoming a painter, she chose the illustration programme at RISD because it was more structured.

"Painting, was a very open major where you don't get too much help," she said. "They want you to expand your creativity. They want you to figure it out yourself. I was thinking that wasn't such a good idea. I thought I could do that after university. I chose illustration because there was more direction."

She hopes to do an internship at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) next year in New York City.

"That should be amazing," she said. "I get really get inspired by everything there."

This summer she is working at the Masterworks Foundation summer camp.

The second scholarship winner, Miss Dismont, is more focused on jewellery.

She is a student at L'Ecole de Joaillerie de Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

"I have always loved jewellery," she said. "When I was 14-years-old I started making plastic bracelets and selling them to my classmates for two dollars. I self-taught in beading and putting things together."

She has sold some of her jewellery at St. George's Market nights and at The Island Shop, The English Sports Shop, and The Littlest DrawBridge, in Dockyard.

But it was after graduating from McGill University that she decided to look at jewellery making as a career.

"I did humanist studies with a concentration in Eastern religion and a double minor in French and Spanish at McGill," she said. "I won the McGill-Bermuda Scholarship. I finished in December but graduation wasn't until June. So to bide my time I decided to take some silver smithing courses.

"I ended up staying to do full-time courses. So I am back to being a full-time student."

She has also had trouble finding financial backing for her arts studies.

"I actually applied for this scholarship a few years ago but didn't get it," she said. "But looking back I wasn't ready.

"Back then I was just self-taught in beaded work and there are a lot of beaders on the island. But there aren't that many people studying fine jewellery. I am glad I waited to reapply once I started my education. I know I am better prepared now."

She said the scholarship will help her with the cost of materials.

"It is extremely hard finding materials here," she said. "You have to order away and pay for shipping and duty.

"I have so many designs in my sketch book that I haven't been able to make because materials have been so expensive. The price of silver and gold sky rocketed. It has come back down now a bit but it is still expensive, especially when you are buying stones.

"The scholarship is definitely going to help me make more pieces. It will see out my creative designs to something tangible that someone can wear."

At her university, she won an award for a ring she designed.

"I really like geometry, angles and curves," she said. "The ring is different from every angle. I have never seen anything like it so I feel a real connection to it. I feel like it is really mine. "

This summer she is working as a jeweller at Crisson H S & J E Ltd Jewellers.

The visual arts scholarships were part of $156,000 given by the Bank of Butterfield to eight young Bermudians to study in a variety of fields.

The other recipients were Shammah Williams who is studying medicine with an intended speciality in cardiology, Michelle Mitchell who plans to study law, Eleanor Gardner who will be studying international business, Kascia White who will be studying marine biology, Meliseanna Gibbons who is studying psycho-biology, and Neil Cattell who is in medical school.

Jewellery designer Jessica Dismont recipient of the Bank of Butterfield's Visual Arts scholarship with some of her work.