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Heritage Month exhibition highlights Gray paintings

David Mitchell, Jennifer Gray and Rohan Shastri view some of the Bessie Gray paintings that will be shown at the Heritage Month exhibition

Chubb Gallery and the Bermuda National Trust have joined forces to present an exhibition featuring the paintings and poetry of Bessie Gray.

The exhibition — Visions of the Past — will be shown as part of the Heritage Month celebrations and will run until July 27.

Born in 1854, Ms Gray was one of Bermuda’s first female artists and it is believed that she was untrained but possibly tutored by Edward James, a British artist who was on the island during the American Civil War. James depicted a painting party on the lawn of either Clermont Gray’s parents’ house, or Wentworth, Ms Gray’s own house next door.

According to the Trust, “Gray was a gifted and prolific painter in watercolour and confined her work to landscapes and florals. A published poet, she combined these talents to produce a series of booklets and calendars that remain some of the most beautiful publications ever produced by a Bermudian artist.”

The works on display are from a variety of collectors who have agreed to loan their artefacts as well as from the Bermuda National Trust’s own collection.

The Gray paintings in the collection of the Trust are held in the Bermuda Archives.

“There are several other pieces on display that are in an unbelievably well-preserved condition,” said a Trust spokeswoman. “They are in fact on show for the first time, having survived in the darkness of a trunk for over 100 years.

“In a remarkable story, descendants of Bessie Gray unveiled the paintings when clearing an old trunk given to Jennifer Gray, Director of the Bermuda National Trust, by her father. The fresh vibrant appearance of these paintings shows what the entire collection would have looked like when first painted.

“The exhibition reveals an artist willing to experiment not only with her medium, but in her subject matter and presentation. You do, however, get a sense of her passion for florals, especially roses which she was very gifted in capturing with great accuracy.”

Samantha Froud, Chief Administration Officer for Chubb’s Bermuda Operations, commented: “Chubb is delighted to partner with the Bermuda National Trust for our annual Heritage Month exhibition. We sincerely thank the members of the Gray family who have loaned their artwork to make this exhibition possible.

“It is an honour to feature the work of one of Bermuda’s first female artists and we invite the community to visit the Gallery to enjoy these beautiful pieces of history.”

The Chubb Gallery, located at the Chubb Building, 17 Woodbourne Avenue, Hamilton is open to the public weekdays from 10am-4pm.