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New collection celebrates diversity

  • The official release of the Stamp Issue and the First Day Cover at the Bermuda National Gallery. Pictured left to right- Lisa Howie, Stanley Taylor, Minister Zane DeSilva and Minister Lovitta Foggo, Founder Desmond Fountain and Chairman Gray Phillips. (Photographs By Akil Simmons)
  • The official release of the Stamp Issue and the First Day Cover at the Bermuda National Gallery. Pictured-  Founder Desmond Fountain (Photographs By Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda National Gallery yesterday marked its 25th anniversary with a collection of four stamps picked to highlight the island’s art scene.

Lisa Howie, executive director of the gallery, said: “The collection is diverse as our people are and has a rich history which, as you see around us, references various cultures.

“The purpose of the stamps was to show that the BNG is much more than the narrative around Bermuda art — it is trying very hard to develop and discuss the diversity of our historical culture.”

The book of stamps features a 50c stamp with a 1917 painting by American artist William Howe Foote called Old Bermuda House.

The original oil painting was a gift from the late David White, a former editor of The Royal Gazette, to the gallery’s Bermuda Collection.

A $1.25 stamp has a contemporary still life image of a 12-colour screen print called Cerise by Janet Fish who grew up in Bermuda, while a 1761 work by acclaimed English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds is used for a $1.35 stamp.

The commemorative collection was rounded off with a $1.55 stamp with an image of a wooden mask from the Bamum peoples of Cameroon.

A fifth work of art on the book cover by local artist Alan C. Smith is a self-portrait which includes landscape elements.

As the stamps were unveiled at the gallery, housed in Hamilton’s City Hall, it was revealed that sculptor Desmond Fountain was the founder and “man behind the dream” of a national gallery. Mr Fountain told guests at the ceremony how he came up with the idea of launching a national gallery in 1971 when he returned to Bermuda after gaining a degree in art studies.

He said: “I am not only the founding trustee but the founder of the Bermuda Fine Art Trust, trading as the BNG, and our first chairman, which so far has never been recorded in the written history.”

Mr Fountain decided to found and fund the charitable trust himself after a lack of interest from Government and the Corporation of Hamilton.

But, as his international career as a sculptor took off, he stepped down as chairman and his crucial role was forgotten.

Mr Fountain said: “This is the early history and the missing part of how a dream became a reality. This 25th anniversary is a good time to set the record straight.”

The BNG stamps are now available at the gallery and at the Post Office.