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A little bit of everything

Grand opening: Rich de Whittaker exhibits for the first time in 20 years

As a kid, Rich de Whittaker banged away on the pots and pans he found in his mother’s kitchen. His musicality was wasted on Diane Maughan, who begged her son to stop.

“She didn’t realise I’d be doing it all my life,” Mr de Whittaker laughed. His most recent compositions can be heard on SoundCloud.

There’s one for each of the five pieces of art he created for Triple D, a Masterworks exhibit that also features work by his mother, and photographer Andy Detzer. It’s the first time Mr de Whittaker will have shown his work publicly in 20 years.

“This show is the result of me buckling down and saying I need to get back to this,” said the artist, who is largely self-taught and confessed to being “a little nervous” about tonight’s opening. “It became a question of time; time to do it as well as everything else I’m doing. Since I was a teen, probably, I’d been in a few different shows but composing basically took over my life from really, 1996 on.”

It was then he found studio work overseas, eventually establishing his name in sound design. “I’ve worked in big studios in New York and London with everyone from U2 to Yo-Yo Ma; with big budgets, big artists. It was a whole different world when the record industry still existed.”

Today he composes out of a “small private studio” in Bermuda but will “travel to London or LA or New York and whip out the orchestra” as required. “I’m a media composer; that means television, film, looking at images. Whatever I’m creating sonically has to be inspired by what’s going on visually. I finally decided to try it for myself with this show.”

As such, he completed the paintings for Triple D first and then got to work composing. His artwork is large (roughly 36” by 36”) and full of colour; modern in style, it was inspired by the likes of Kandinsky and Van Gogh. “I’ve had a very good response from the people who have seen them so far and lots of listens on the music,” Mr de Whittaker said. “There’s a little bit of everything in there; it’s orchestral, a little bespoke sound design elements, choral, electronic — there’s all that going on.

“Many sounds I create myself. It’s a question of looking at an image and asking, how does it make me feel, what’s the emotional content, how can I translate that into sound? I thought, I do it for moving pictures, why not for paintings?”

Signs next to each of his paintings will help viewers access the relevant composition.

“I’m not playing the music in there because the room is very ambient and any sound will [lead to] obfuscation,” he said. “It would be disturbing for the other artists as well. This way, anyone can stream the music off SoundCloud on whatever device they listen to. I think the show will be wonderful. My mother doesn’t just do paintings. She’s painted textiles for over 30 years. At the opening she will be debuting a new scarf design. It’s very different and it’s gorgeous.”

He and his mother knew Mr Detzer for years before they considered holding an exhibit together. “My mum is good friends with Andy’s wife — of course most people know him as the iconic manager of Fourways — and we just all became good friends over the years,” Mr de Whittaker said. “It took a while for us to realise he was an artist and not just a really nice guy. Conversely, I don’t think he realised we were artists either.

“It will be a very colourful show with the three of us. I am very much looking forward to seeing what Andy has been up to. He has taken to making his photos appear like a painting to dramatic effect.”

Listen to Rich de Whittaker’s music here: https://bit.ly/2l64Nkr. Triple D: Dyan, Detzer and De Whittaker opens in the Rick Faries Gallery at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art at 5.30pm tonight and runs through July 4