As St George’s prepares for the annual Marine Expo, an east end gallery has taken an abstract approach to boating.
Marine & Materiality partners the physical elements of boating, the engines, the equipment and the boats themselves, with the material elements of creative expression.
Curator Lisa Howie brought Louisa Bermingham, Carla-Faye Hardtman, Teresa Kirby Smith, Ami Zanders and Andrea Sundt together for the event.
She especially liked the idea of only having females involved.
“The Expo is very masculine territory,” she said. “Not just because there are men there, but all of the objects have very masculine elements about them — the heaviness of an engine, the shape of a speedboat.
“We can safely say that the Marine Expo has traditionally been a very masculine space. I wanted to insert a sense of femininity and a feminine language in the context of the Expo.”
Multiple media is on display: Ms Bermingham paints; Ms Hardtman’s speciality is her paper cutting technique; Ms Kirby Smith’s medium is photography; Ms Sundt is known for her large-scale paper installations and Ms Zanders uses diverse media such as silk screen, intaglio, weaving, painting, papermaking and metal work.
“I was also looking specifically for artists that were not depicting realism where it relates to the marine space,” Ms Howie said. “I wanted to have an arc of experience — artists who are new and emerging to someone like Teresa Kirby-Smith who has been working in the field for decades.
“And while I hadn’t really been thinking about diversity consciously, that came out of it.”
The project is her first since she resigned in October as director of the Bermuda National Gallery after eight years.
The role solidified for her the importance of the contemporary art movement and the need to find more non-traditional platforms on island.
“The [BNG’s] Biennial is a great example of an exhibition on island that allows artists to do anything they want,” said Ms Howie, now an independent curator. “My question is what happens between the Biennial in terms of providing artists with a space and a place to do that.
“By being independent, I can find the alternative spaces and repurpose them for an art gallery experience. Maybe it lends to people looking at art completely differently, maybe it lends to the artists themselves taking risks and continuing to be innovative.”
She said it was especially important now that Bermuda’s Biennial is part of the International Biennial Association.
The connection has brought the interest of international curators as well as partners in the community who want to see the island’s contemporary artists represented overseas.
“Some of the art that’s created here is terrific. It really does speak on that international platform.
“Artists are very professional; they render their work beautifully; they can write and talk and think about their work eloquently. Those are the hallmarks of the contemporary movement.”
She hopes exhibitions like hers will help open art to the entire community.
At the moment, she believes it is limited to certain segments of the population.
“I really see it as a social imperative,” she said.
“I know that it’s always second fiddle to the important human rights issues — shelter, fresh water, access to education and employment — but, as a First World nation, we need to make sure that people have spaces for creative expression.
“There’s a lot of evidence that art and culture can be solution-bearing and economic. If we develop our creativity, we will develop the mindset towards creating solutions for all of our problems. I hope that people who are coming to the Marine Expo will take time to have a look. And perhaps even be surprised.”
• The St George’s Marine Expo takes place on Sunday at Ordnance Island from 11am until 6pm