Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

West and West Hill Streets
Nassau, N.P.
The Bahamas

(242) 328-5800

Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

A Walk with Nettie: Communing with art, nature and culture

Natalie Willis

By Katrina Cartwright

At 10 am on the morning of Saturday, February 3rd, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas hosted a special extended tour of the “Medium” exhibition which was then continued at Nettie’s Cultural Retreat on Cable Beach. This offer was an incredible treat for the almost 20 art enthusiasts who joined NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe and Education Officer Katrina Cartwright for a morning of cultural immersion, engaging conversation, great food and good company.

Routes and Roots the guided tour of “Medium: Practices and Routes of Spirituality and Mysticism” held at the NAGB on February 3rd, 2018.

Routes and Roots the guided tour of “Medium: Practices and Routes of Spirituality and Mysticism” held at the NAGB on February 3rd, 2018.

“Medium: Practices and Routes of Spirituality and Mysticism” opened at the museum on December 14th, 2017 and presents a survey of contemporary works that define and interrogate the critical edge of the birth and development of The Bahamas as a monolithic conservative Christian country. There is a particular emphasis on intuitive art through the installation of the work of Netica (Nettie) Symonette in the ballroom, which gives viewers just a glimpse of the manic creativity that can be experienced at her art retreat on the Cable Beach strip. In an effort to give the public the opportunity to experience the quirky, intensely spiritual and somewhat overwhelming nature of the work and its maker, the Education and Curatorial team at the NAGB worked together to present a one-of-kind experience for the public.

The grounds with mother duck and ducklings on Nettie Cultural Retreat.

The grounds with mother duck and ducklings on Nettie Cultural Retreat.

The day began with a tour of the “Medium” exhibition at the NAGB, led by Bynoe and Cartwright who provided background information on the show and facilitated discussions between participants. Particular attention was given to Nettie’s “room,” as an introduction to the artist through her work in preparation for the highlight of the event, a visit to Nettie’s place where the icon herself would lead the tour. Everyone was then transported to the art retreat and cultural village on Cable Beach and met by Nettie and her daughter Shirley. Nettie was in fine form and at once took on the persona of mother, teacher and priestess. As members of the group became enamoured with the myriad hanging painted bottles, paintings, sculptures and other objects that Nettie had procured to turn into artwork, and fell behind, she reminded them to keep up by saying “Ma chilrun, ma chilrun,” to which the automatic response was “Yes ma’am,” as everyone remembered this favourite ring play chant and took great joy in playing once again.

Portrait of Netica Symonette at her cultural retreat at Cable Beach. Images courtesy of the NAGB.

Portrait of Netica Symonette at her cultural retreat at Cable Beach. Images courtesy of the NAGB.

The three-acre property that had been transformed into a place that took snippets from the culture and traditions of almost every island in The Bahamas and created a sanctuary to helped us remember, was viewed and experienced with awe for most and a certain nostalgia for those who revisited fond memories of island life. Amongst the chickens, ducks, native trees and the expressive paintings that were on almost every surface, it was easy to listen to the wind and forget that this space was in a busy city where the majority of the population resides.

Appropriately, this morning of reflection and sharing ended with a selection of native bush tea and sweet breads. The coconut “jimmy” made by Nettie and her family was a huge hit and completed a truly “down home” experience that cemented the reality that we are much more than our sun, sand and sea. Nettie’s Place stands as a bastion of Bahamian traditions, history and practices in one of the most modernized and touristic areas in New Providence.

Abaco teenager to hold art exhibition at Doongalik

Natalie Willis

Lucas Kaighin, a 16 years old teenager from Marsh Harbour, Abaco, will open the first solo exhibition in Nassau of his art work entitled “Explosion” on Friday, February 23 from 6-9pm.According to his mentor, local Abaco artist Jo Bradley: "Lucas has been painting original watercolours and acrylics since he was three.  Even at that early age his brilliance and power with colour and brush was evident.  Lucas' preferred style is abstract, portraying emotions and subjects in bold strokes and slashes, ribbons and delicate etchings in the paint itself. His art is compelling and I often learn as much from him as I give!”

Read More

“Defender of the Faith”: Rembrandt Taylor’s Dragon-slayer.

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis.   Rembrandt Taylor is truly a master of his craft. His meticulous attention to lines and cell-shaded blocks of colour is testament to his skill. His body of artwork generally contain references to Exodus, to Black kings and queens, to religion, and his beliefs as Rastafari are clear and given deference. The religious and social movement, which began in the 1930s in Jamaica, gives rich territory for explorations of faith and identity, of self, and Taylor doesn’t shy away from re-framing the conversation to suit his roots.

In this vein of celebration of Black histories of faith, “Defender of the Faith” (2001)—depicting St. George slaying the mythical dragon—would seem to be something of a contradiction. Why on Garvey’s green earth would a Rasta paint the patron saint of England in such detail? The image is iconic in art history, and the story is popular not just in England but across Europe - oddly enough, particularly in Russia and Georgia. Saint George, in Georgia, who’d have thunk it?

Read More

Heino Schmid’s “wait. I saw something”: The complexity and simplicity of abstraction

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett

When we are taught to ask for directions in what we are to think, what we are to say and what we are to do, we run into a figurative bind of being stuck in uncreativity and the superficiality of a surface.  Heino Schmid’s work does not fit into any of these unthinking paradigms.  As I walked through his show “wait. I saw something,” which opened at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation on Thursday, February 8th, I had to think about the work.  The work is not trouble-free art that covers a wall or adorns a room with its ease of access and prettiness, but an abstraction that made me think about many things. 

Read More

Blank Canvas: February 7th, "Tamarind Journal"

Katrina Cartwright

Joining host Amanda Coulson on this week’s “Blank Canvas,” are students from the University of The Bahamas (UB) who are reviving the “Tamarind Journal.” The “Tamarind Journal” was started several years ago by professors at The College of The Bahamas but unfortunately, did not continue. Co-editors Suhayla Hepburn, Tanicia Pratt and Ide Amari Thompson - who are also members of the “Tingum Collective,” a group of young poets out of UB – have bravely taken on the challenge of relaunching this journal that provides a platform for writers to share their work with a wider audience.

Read More

“Prayer in a Dark Place” (2013) by Jace McKinney: Hope in spite of sinking feelings

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis.  “Each night before you go to bed, my baby, Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby. Because it's hard for me, my baby, And the darkest hour is just before dawn.” The Mamas & The Papas crooned about the sort of hope and prayer; the battle of light and dark and hard times that we all encounter, but we are used to hearing things a bit more succinctly in these parts. “I ga pray for you.” It’s something we all hear growing up in this place because regardless of what your personal beliefs might be, someone, somewhere in these 700 isles will be there to pray for you in hard times. Jace McKinney’s “Prayer in a Dark Place” (2013) is a visual representation for many of us of the vulnerability we can be made to feel in life, as we attempt to navigate this very particular space we inhabit. It’s by and large a part of being human for most, but especially for this complicated pocket of the world we live in with our rich and dark history.

Read More

Caribbean Film: Expanding the conversations with our stories

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell Bennett.  We often see the representation of indigenous culture on the screen or read about in books that present it in interesting yet reductive ways. Documentary and docudrama can aid in combating the erasure of identity, space and place that so much of the Caribbean is under.  Erasure is not only dangerous but also destructive, as it removes tangible culture from the radar and replaces it with ideas of development that belong nowhere and exist everywhere.  As the colonial space shows, the rapidly shifting geographies are real, as climate changes and ideas of development imagines space differently.  The important part is to document the shift and what was there before.

Read More

William Sweeting’s “Two Natives at the Gate” (1971): As seen by our youth.

Natalie Willis

By Nakoa McKenzie, Student at C.R. Walker Secondary High School.  Introduction: The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas prides itself on having a healthy and robust community outreach programme with high schools, especially those in our community. Every semester we work with schools to find students to partner with, especially those who have an interest in the arts and cultural initiatives. This extends to work-study opportunities, building and reinforcing how relevant research and data management is with regards to development and strategy. We give students the opportunity to thoroughly integrate with the NAGB team for a week or two - the time remains flexible- and during the first two days of observation, they have an idea of a more significant way in which they’d like to contribute.

Read More

Blank Canvas: January 31st, Tru-Tru Bahamian Festival

Katrina Cartwright

It’s all about being “Tru-Tru” on this week's “Blank Canvas.” In the studio with Amanda are (left) Suzanne Pattusch, the Executive Vice President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and (right) Angelique McKay, Founder and CEO of the Junkanoo Commandoes, talking about the upcoming "Tru-Tru Bahamian Festival” that takes place at John Watlings Distillery on Delancy Street, Saturday and Sunday, February 3rd and 4th, 2018.

Read More

From the Collection: “Untitled (Balcony House on Market Street)” (ca 1920) by James Osborne “Doc” Sands

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis.  There is this assumed romanticism of the past for many, especially when looking the quaint images of Nassau-from-yesteryear. But here, we find it is often laced with a pain of looking at where we were as a nation, those issues we faced then and the echoes of this past that we deal with now. “Untitled (Balcony House on Market Street)” (ca. 1920) by James Osborne “Doc” Sands shows us a Bahamas that is still reeling and reconfiguring after the abolishment of slavery, and post-apprenticeship, even in 1920. The legacy of racial power structures inherited by The Bahamas, and by the wider Caribbean region, was very much present and felt. The tiering of whites, mixed-race, and Black Bahamians is still something we feel today, even with all the work done to dismantle this hegemony.

Read More

Letter to the Editor: "S.O.S. - SAVE OUR (CITY’S) SOUL"

Natalie Willis

By Pamela Burnside. Dear Editor, S.O.S. - SAVE OUR (CITY’S) SOUL. In the late 1900s my late husband, architect and Bahamian advocate Jackson Burnside III, wrote a newspaper article under this same title, bemoaning the burgeoning loss of pride and appreciation for our country’s soul – i.e. our unique, rich Bahamian Art, Culture, and Heritage.  Although he is no longer physically with us, I will intersperse this letter with several of his quotations, which are still so very relevant today.

Read More

Cultural Erasure: Within filmic representation

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell Bennett.  Indigenous culture is being smothered in many areas of the Caribbean and The Bahamas.  This erasure has been assisted by a process of deculturation that includes the popular image of Bahamians and Bahamian culture being shifted to reflect an image that is about objectification and imagination.  This picture is built on the myth of the exotic.  Perhaps the best words to describe this are borrowed from Stark’s “History and Guide to The Bahama Islands” (1891).

Read More

The NAGB hosts Portfolio Workshop for Teens: Workshop gives students a memorable experience

Natalie Willis

By Katrina Cartwright.  On Saturday, January 20th, 2018, thirteen students from public, private and home schools attended the NAGB’s free portfolio workshop. Formulated for students in senior high school or in their freshman year at The University of The Bahamas, who are looking to transition into a tertiary art programme at an international school in 2018/2019, this workshop is one of two that will be held by the Gallery in 2018. It is hoped that this experience will give students the tools to successfully apply to any art programme of their choice.

Read More

Blank Canvas: January 24th, Tamika Galanis

Katrina Cartwright

On this evening’s “ Blank Canvas,” your host Amanda Coulson (NAGB Director) is joined by Tamika Galanis, a documentarian and multimedia visual artist. A Bahamian native, Tamika’s work examines the complexities of living in a place shrouded in tourism’s ideal during the age of climate concerns. Emphasizing the importance of Bahamian cultural identity for cultural preservation, Tamika documents aspects of Bahamian life not curated for tourist consumption, to intervene in the historical archive.

 

Read More

Call for Papers: "Migrants: art, artists, materials and ideas crossing borders" at The Hamilton Kerr Institute at the University of Cambir

Natalie Willis

The Hamilton Kerr Institute is organising a conference entitled Migrants: art, artists, materials and ideas crossing borders which will be held on 15-16 November 2018, at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. This two-day conference, will reflect on the role of migration as embodied in works of art and material culture as documented in visual and written sources. 

Read More

This has all been said before: Art, Racism and the words of representation

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett.I borrow words from Haitian writer and activist Edwidge Danticat to start this piece “Nou Led, Nou La,” “We are ugly but we are here,” to express the sentiment against the “shithole countries” that have been accused for their suffering by powers that created it. And here we find ourselves again, in the ugliness of a non-racist, historical depiction of people and countries, even while some may be continents, that have been set a light by a history of gun-boat and dollar diplomacy, and representation that shows them to be nothing other than shithole countries with monkeys in the jungle. 

Read More

Letter to the editor: FIX THE CIVIL SERVICE!

Natalie Willis

A letter from cultural activist Pamela Burnside: Dear Editor, FIX THE CIVIL SERVICE! I write this letter with consternation after an exchange yesterday with an employee at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. Firstly, (and this applies to ALL ministries), why do civil servants believe that using "Miss or Mrs…So and so" is the proper way to introduce themselves instead of using their first name? How can you contact them, especially those who have a common surname like Smith or Bethel, if you cannot distinguish them amongst the huge office of people! Please, Department of Public Service, hold a seminar for civil servants, headed by properly qualified individuals, to teach proper etiquette and basic commonsense (although the commonsense part might be pushing it)!

Read More

NAGB hosts Portfolio Workshop for Teens

Katrina Cartwright

On Saturday, January 20th, 2018, thirteen students from public, private and home schools attended the NAGB’s free portfolio workshop. Formulated for students in senior high school or in their freshman year at The University of The Bahamas, who are looking to transition into a tertiary art programme at an international school in 2018/2019, this workshop is one of two that will be held by the NAGB in 2018. It is hoped that this experience will give students the tools to successfully apply to an art programme of their choice.

Read More

Open call for works featuring your Potcakes!!

Holly Bynoe

The NAGB is celebrating the Chinese year of the Dog with a call for Potcakes. Would you like to share your experience of observing, owning or knowing a potcake? Bahamian artists are welcome to submit works in any medium: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, photography, video, textile, installation and mixed media.

Read More

Gaia Reimagined: “Mother Earth” (1992) by Clive Stuart

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis.  Clive Stuart’s “Mother Earth” (1992; acrylic on plywood) is a serene and unapologetic celebration of both womanhood and Blackness. Born on Cat Island, Stuart imbues “Mother Earth” with the spirituality, magic, and mysticism of his birthplace. With an unapologetic Black woman standing front and centre as subject, the work celebrates just that - Black womanhood and all that it comes with.

Read More