Local artist Barbara Finsness called upon her draftsmanship of the flora, fauna and architecture of Bermuda to create her collection for the America’s Cup.
Finsness and her late husband Kenneth opened The Island Shop in 2001. The shop has featured her signature gift ware of ceramics and linens over the years.
“I have continuously been inspired by my island home so it is not surprising that such an important local event would result in my creation of a new collection,” she said.
“Informed by my architectural and fine-art training, the images I’ve rendered are most often balanced, detailed and colourful.”
The America’s Cup event has allowed a promising opportunity, as it has encouraged her to hone her design skills and experience as a local retailer to create products that would enable her to become a licensee.
With the goal of becoming a licensee, the artist spent some time considering the approach she should take for the process of becoming one.
“After researching the event, I realised the significance of the trophy itself and was drawn to its history, beauty and reflective nature,” said the artist.
“I wanted to develop an image that paid homage to this past, but would equally represent the special environment of its 2017 environment.
“Starting with the highly reflective silhouette of the trophy itself I mirrored with detailed draftsmanship the flora, fauna and architecture of Bermuda.
“The watercolour renderings of longtails, Bermudiana, sea life and a welcoming pink cottage are anchored at the base by the depiction of competing sailing vessels.”
Not being a sailor herself, Finsness needed to inform herself about the modern shapes of the sails, although they remain white as was her artistic preference.
“The resultant image has been translated onto hand-painted ceramics, tea towels, trays, coasters and cocktail napkins and into two sizes of watercolour prints,” she said.
“I presented these items to the America’s Cup authority and was given permission to develop them for sale, but not all of my suggestions were approved.
“I would have loved to have designed a tie and Christmas ornament, but I was happy with the encouragement I received on many of my ideas.”
A contract was signed outlining parameters and percentages and production was then put in place.
“I was challenged with the determination of how much to invest in the ordering, as the America’s Cup event is unprecedented in Bermuda’s history, so no one is certain how much retail activity will result.
“Furthermore, all approved merchandise must be sold within three months of the event, which will naturally limit the sales within a certain time period.
“This will benefit the purchasers in that things will naturally be limited editions, but will challenge the shop owners.”
Advertising the wares has also proved a bit more restrictive in that the America’s Cup Authority must approve anything that goes to print.
“An objection was raised when one of the images seemed to supersede the official logo of the event and the problem was quickly rectified at the airport advertising.”
In spite of small setbacks Finsness is confident that her efforts will be rewarded.
“I am looking forward to the international exposure all of Bermuda will receive within the next few months and hope the local economy will be stimulated after nearly ten years of stagnation and decline.
“I believe the America’s Cup event has given us all a reason to be excited for the summer and the future.
“I have also been delighted to be invited by my daughter on at least one spectator boat excursion, possibly more.
“Above all I am looking forward to welcoming ever more attractive customers and rugged sailors to Bermuda’s shores.”
The Island Shop America’s Cup collection is available in her three store locations and some will also be available at A.S. Cooper’s America’s Cup store and the America’s Cup Village.
The largest hand-painted platters are custom order only and note cards are also available, bulk upon request.