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Young at art: siblings put on exhibition

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Grace and Liam Flannery put their heart and soul into their first art exhibition.

The ten and 13-year-old siblings put up sketches, paintings and ceramics in Journeys: Real and Imagined, at the Bermuda College.

Gack stole the show.

“I made green slime from borax, glue and water a year ago,” said Grace.

“I positioned it on a shelf to drip. At the opening, people were just standing there watching it.”

She loved the audience's reaction.

“At least they were looking at something that was mine,” she laughed.

Liam's detailed landscapes and paintings got slightly less attention. He took it in his stride.

“People came up to us and said nice things about the work,” he said.

But since the show opened on March 28, the slime has dried up in the air conditioning. The show was arranged by their mother, artist Louisa Bermingham. She's been encouraging their creativity since day one. When they were toddlers she took a relaxed approach to the ‘don't play with your food' rule. Toast, ketchup and blueberries were some of the children's favourite early materials.

“Once we had a lot of snails in the yard, so I made my name out of them,” said Grace. “I took a picture of them all crawling away.”

The downside to a creative family is storing all the art work.

“I photograph a lot of it and try to get rid of a lot,” said Ms Bermingham. “But I still have tons stored in boxes.”

She's talked for years about using it in an exhibition.

That's why Grace was disbelieving when she said she'd finally arranged it.

“At first I was like, are you sure it is going to happen?” said Grace.

Grace also wondered if they were even old enough to have a show.

“Then I said, oh it is going to happen,” said Grace.

The family carted years worth of art to the Bermuda College gallery.

“I was surprised at how long it took to set up the exhibition,” said Liam. “We had to fit it into our school schedules, so it took over a week.”

Ms Bermingham arranged all the art into an installation piece with string and other bits connecting the work.

“In the end the way we put it together made a whole new piece in itself,” said Ms Bermingham.

Some of the work was from a trip they took last summer to Ireland, England and Scotland.

“My mom ordered these mini watercolour sets and mini drawing pads off of Amazon and we took them with us,” Liam said.

He painted one of the pieces while sitting in a little backyard in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“I loved going to the Highland Games,” he said. “Everything was very inspiring.”

The aim of the show was not to sell art.

“We haven't even put up prices,” said Ms Bermingham. “The Bermuda College gallery is more of an education setting.”

Instead, she hopes it will encourage others to be creative.

“A lot of the Bermuda College students who came to the opening were saying, hey I used to make little drawings like that when I was a kid, but I stopped,” said Ms Bermingham.

She advised parents to make art materials freely available.

“It can be simple things like allowing the whiteout to be used as paint, or tape used as a drawing tool,” she said.

“Allow them the freedom to explore different materials. Save some of the recyclable materials from the trash and cut those up.”

The Flannery children's creativity might also be helped by the lack of television in their house.

“We've had one on and off over the years,” she said. “We don't at the moment.

“None of us have a mobile phone either. We have computer and access to the internet.”

She hopes the exhibition will give her children a confidence boost.

“I am hoping it is an incentive for them to do some more,” she said.

But as much as Liam and Grace like art, they aren't sure if they want to become professional artists.

“I like art, but I might want to do something in geography, engineering or physics,” said Liam.

“I like acting a little more than art,” said Grace.

Ms Bermingham knew she wanted to be an artist when she was nine.

“I would make things with whatever I had,” she said. “My parents, Jane and Andrew Bermingham, weren't particularly interested in art, but my mother would always point things out, like look at this gorgeous sunset, or look at the shine on the water.

“I would cut the cartoons out of the newspaper and do things with those.”

She studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Once I got there the world of art opened up,” said Ms Bermingham.

Since then she has taught art in Bermuda in a number of places such as the Bermuda College, the Bermuda High School and at summer camps.

“I have a few pieces in the show,” said Ms Bermingham. “So does my youngest child, Francis, who is two.”

Journeys: Real and Imagined is on until Saturday in the Bermuda College Art Gallery on the second floor of North Hall. All are welcome

Making an exhibition: Grace and Liam Flannery at their art exhibition (Photograph supplied)
Picture perfect: a landscape by Liam Flannery (Photograph supplied)
Travelling show: artwork in Liam and Grace Flannery's first art exhibition Journeys: Real and Imagined, which is on now at the Bermuda College (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 01, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 01, 2017 at 8:21 am)

Young at art: siblings put on exhibition

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