By Holly Bynoe. On March 22nd through July 29th, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas presents the first of two historical surveys exhibitions that include works produced from 1856-1960 by visiting artists and expatriates, who were inspired by the then-colony's landscapes, people, luminescence, coastlines and seas and bustling lifestyles. Traversing the Picturesque: For Sentimental Value draws from several familiar and a few new collections to detail the breadth and scope of how The Bahamas has been framed within the popular global imagination and the impact of the colonial and outsider gaze on the development of a historical understanding of the nation.Read More
Mixed Media Blog
This week we have another visitor from the U.S. on the NAGB’s "Blank Canvas.” Gallerist Camilo Alvarez is in the studio with our host Amanda Coulson, sharing his experiences with running and operating a gallery space. He also speaks to his newest "Nomad Project."Read More
By Malika Pryor-Martin. The Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida recently showcased an exhibition that included works drawn from the National Collection, D’Aguilar Foundation Collection and the Dawn Davies Collection as well as three local south Florida artists. Some Bahamian artists featured included: Edison G. Rolle, Maxwell Taylor and Eddie Minnis and the pieces selected by curators at the Elliott Museum wooed and wowed Floridian audiences.Read More
By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. Can we conceptualise change? In our lessons, our lives, our schooling, have we been encouraged to examine a problem and to solve it? Have we been encouraged to dream big and produce along those lines? Usually, to ideate creatively, to innovate, to shift the cultural thinking or vision, we must think critically. This thinking makes some people uncomfortable, yet, this essential skill is wiped out in the Bahamian education system. We are also told that dabbling in art won’t pay the bills, however, to meet the demands of change, we must think creatively. Google, FaceBook, sustainable renewable cities, Worlds fairs, Disney World, are all creative building structures that use winds, the light and the landmass to cool, power, and illuminate are usually created in studios of creative minds that do not conform to linear thinking or conservative paradigmatic control.Read More
By Natalie Willis
This week we continue our interview with Sonia Farmer on her work for the upcoming collaborative exhibition with the British Council, “We Suffer To Remain”. It is difficult to think about just who gets to discuss our history, when some voices are silenced, and others get a proverbial loudspeaker. Farmer’s artist book “A True & Exact History”, a poem produced from her erasure of Richard Ligon’s “A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes” (1657), deals with just that.Read More
On this week’s “Blank Canvas” we are hosting an array of folks representing our local art scene, who are all working on the 14th edition of “Transforming Spaces,” the annual art bus tour, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18. Four galleries are represented this year: D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF), Doongalik Studios, Hillside House, and for the very first time, The Current at Baha Mar.Read More
By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. Over the last few weeks we have been journeying through “Medium: Practices and Routes of Spirituality and Mysticism” and discussing linkages with the upcoming show “We Suffer To Remain”, an international collaboration between the British Council and The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Writing this piece from Dubai at the Chamber of Commerce conference for Latin America and preparing for Expo2020 the polemics of culture become more clearly abstracted. So much of our culture and life resides beneath the surface. From time to time it surfaces to be revealed in stunning works of art, vibrant crafts, suggestive and politically critical music, or just fried into a fried-dry piece of chicken. We overlook that we exist in culture and that our culture dictates how we think about who we are and how we respond to a crisis.Read More
What Makes “A True & Exact History”?: An Interview with Sonia Farmer on her work for the upcoming exhibition “We Suffer To Remain”.
By Natalie Willis. In this week’s interview we hear from Sonia Farmer on her contribution to “We Suffer To Remain”, an exhibition opening later this month that moves around ideas of slavery, time and memory, and how we begin to unpack and deal with these legacies. Farmer is a writer, visual artist, and small press publisher who uses letterpress printing, bookbinding, hand-papermaking, and digital projects to build narratives about the Caribbean space. She is the founder of Poinciana Paper Press, a small and independent press in Nassau which produces handmade and limited edition chapbooks of Caribbean literature and promotes the crafts of book arts through workshops and creative collaborations. The title for the exhibition comes from Farmer’s book produced for this show, “A True & Exact History”, which will be displayed alongside fellow Bahamian artists John Beadle and Anina Major works, as well as the work of Scottish artist Graham Fagen with his project from the 2015 Venice Biennale, “The Slave’s Lament”. Farmer moves us through not just the language written within the book itself, but around the art of bookmaking itself and how she crafts language to unpack the question of who we–as a country and as part of the Caribbean region–allowing to voice our histories.Read More
By Malika Pryor-Martin.
“TRANS: A Migration of Identity”, curated by The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ Community Outreach Officer Abby Smith and Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett, is the NAGB’s second inter-island travelling exhibition and will premiere in Eleuthera next week. The first, MAX/AMOS focused on the works, as compliment and contrast, of masters Maxwell Taylor and Amos Ferguson. It played with ideas of identity and memory, how one sees themselves and sees their country; all through the eyes of these two men.Read More
Tickets are now on sale for the popular annual Transforming Spaces art bus tour which will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18. Four galleries will be featured this year: D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF), Doongalik Studios, Hillside House, and for the very first time, The Current: Baha Mar Art Studios. Each gallery has chosen their own theme but each will entice their patrons’ appetite for new and innovative Bahamian art, as well as holding related activities to enhance their offerings in the days leading up to, and following the weekend Tour.
DAF has designed a collaborative exhibition with an interesting twist entitled MUSE: Malone & Pachino showcasing the intimate artist-muse relationship spanning over 50 years in Bahamian painting. Moved by the late Brent Malone’s use of muses in his life’s work, contemporary artist, Allan Pachino Wallace, also works with selected live models in a variety of mediums. MUSE brings together paintings from Malone and Pachino featuring the women and men that inspired these master artists to create some of their greatest oeuvres.
Doongalik Studios is focusing on a Junkanoo-themed exhibition entitled JUNKANOO - A Celebration of Life which will introduce junkanoo artisan and entrepreneur, Kevin Knowles and his wife Vanessa of Jujukanoo who has worked in the medium since he was a teenager, producing colourful junkanoo ornaments and figurines which have amazed both locals and visitors. This will be his first full exhibition of his junkanoo work, something which he always dreamt of doing. In conjunction with Jujunkanoo, the Junkanoo Commandos will design a pop up Junkanoo Shack on the gallery premises for patrons to experience the ‘behind the scenes’ journey to Bay Street. Academicians, Dr Nicolette Bethel, Noelle Nicolls and Arlene Nash Ferguson, who were key members in the Junkanoo Think Tank will offer their audience an innovative and educational exhibition of “Junkanoo – towards a new Future.”
Hillside House is pleased to partner with the University of The Bahamas (UB) to host a unique cultural experience that showcases the talents of UB’s Visual Arts, Music, Culinary and English Studies disciplines under the theme Historic Nassau. The three-day event promises to offer an engaging and interactive program of live art, literary and musical performances, educational experiences, and creative workshops that for the first time bring together UB students, staff, faculty and alumni who will be highlighted in three group exhibitions. Lead by UB art faculty Keisha Oliver with guidance from Master Artists Antonius Roberts and Maxwell Taylor ‘Historic Nassau’ is designed to celebrate and reinterpret Bahamian traditions through a sense of community.
The Current: Baha Mar Art Studios is pleased to present two Exhibitions for the Tour: Rooted: An Exploratory Celebration of Blackness, Hair and Womanhood, works by Bahamian Artist Gio Swaby that celebrate a type of self-love and appreciation within black women communities. This series of stitched female portraits on canvas attempt to illustrate an exchange of cultural information related to hair-care.
The second exhibition: Instinct II: From Darkness to Light, is an investigation into the dichotomies of concepts related to life and death, good and evil, love and hate, hope and despair and struggle and victory, to name a few. By juxtaposing these narratives, symbolically described as ‘darkness’ and ‘light’, this exhibition interprets writings from Genesis Chapter 1 vs 1-3: The Beginning: God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.’
Instinct II: From Darkness to Light showcases new works by ten female artists, including Nadine Seymour-Munroe, Ana-Lisa Wells, Chantal Bethel, Claudette Dean, Jessica Colebrooke, Leanne Russell, Lillian Blades, Lisa Codella, Sue Bennett-Williams and Sue Katz. Each artist has illustrated their particular responses to the duplicities of life and how they inherently create balance.
Although the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will not be a scheduled stop on this year’s Tour, they invite the public to view their new multimedia exhibition opening on March 22 entitled “We Suffer to Remain”.
Tickets for the Transforming Spaces Tour are available for purchase at Doongalik Studios and The Place for Art, and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Much more information can be found on the TS website at www.tsbahamas.com.
The very last day of February was a fun and engaging conversation with members of Team NAGB: guest host Malika Pryor-Martin, Communications & Development Officer, Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett and Community Outreach Officer Abby Smith.Read More
By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett
Migration, the moving image, the environment and cultural identity are all a part of the treasure chest of what could be referred to as national or cultural identity. In the context of The Bahamas, cultural identity is distinct and unique because of the archipelagic nature of the country. This, of course, takes into consideration all the nuances and complexities of the differences between–let’s say Bimini and Ragged Island–that have very little in common, but all form a part of what makes up Bahamian national identity.Read More
By Natalie Willis
Continuing on last week’s interview, the discussion builds on the rest of the body of work that Anina Major is producing for “We Suffer To Remain”, an exhibition featuring “The Slave’s Lament” (2015) by Scottish artist Graham Fagen alongside three Bahamian artists, Sonia Farmer and John Beadle included. Major’s work and much of the exhibition deals with the legacies of slavery as embodied by us as post-colonial subjects. This week she speaks to that embodiment, to pain, and to what it means to inhabit a Black feminine body in relation to the ideas brought up by this exhibition as well as recent events in the country.Read More
International guests are coming all the way to The Bahamas to appear on “NAGB’s Blank Canvas” … and to check out our art scene.
This week we welcome long-time self-described “art lover” Steve Shane. While owning artworks that surely number in the hundreds, Shane considers himself more an art historian and does not like to be referred to as a “collector.”Read More
Call for Works: Transforming Spaces 2018 at Hillside House in partnership with University of The Bahamas.
University of The Bahamas (UB) is pleased to partner with Hillside House for the 14th Annual Transforming Spaces (TS) tour. TS at Hillside House will host a unique cultural experience that showcases the talents of UB’s Visual Arts, Music, Culinary and English Studies disciplines. The three-day event promises to offer an engaging and interactive programme of live art, exhibitions, literary and musical performances, educational experiences, and creative workshops featuring UB students, staff, faculty and alumni.Read More
By Malika Pryor Martin.The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas first introduced its mural programme in 2015 as part of a revamped and revitalised summer camp programme. The murals would remain on view at the NAGB for one year before another artist and group of creative campers replaced it the following summer with new ideas and concepts. Makers, who are both members of the NAGB team and professional artists beyond our walls, contributed to the campus effort. It served as inspiration for hundreds of young people and as creative fuel for the participating artists.Read More
The NAGB is looking for volunteers to join our docent programme! Docents are incredibly important as they support museum staff by providing tours to visitors, guiding them through our dynamic exhibitions and promoting a greater appreciation of the gallery’s collection of Bahamian art.
Interested in meeting and working with other enthusiastic art lovers? Contact Katrina Cartwright at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800.Read More
By Dr Ian Bethel Bennett. The materiality of art and culture is essential to the experience with art and our understanding of the relationship between space, time and humanity. When we do not see, feel or experience the materiality of space, we tend to ignore its existence. Art can be used to bridge gaps between the materiality of experience and the historical omissions and erasures that leave the space open to deletion, and de-historicisation. Music, similar to art, can speak to a similar materialising of experiences that have been wiped out by the passage of time and the shifting sands of spatial economic change. The disappearance from the mental record of the Nassau Market is a salient example of the vanishing materiality and so the memory of that experience. What remains is a space that has been razed of the material market and so the only vestiges remain. The artistic renderings and musical recitations of that material experience, where women and men walked over Market Street, often through Gregory’s Arch, to sell produce in the market, is what remains.Read More
By Natalie Willis. We often speak of Slavery in regards to one demographic in particular and the detrimental effects that remain today - and rightly so. It is a painful legacy, but it is also a shared one. “The Slave’s Lament,” written by Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns in 1792, is a song that spoke to this history in its own time. It is also the title of a work by another Scot, Graham Fagen, who used this song in his presentation at the 2015 Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. This newer rendition, featuring Reggae artist Ghetto Priest and a string ensemble, serves as the focus and starting point for us to begin to discuss this history through a slightly different lens. The exhibition, “We Suffer To Remain,” opens in March and features Fagen’s artwork along with that of three Bahamian artists, namely: Sonia Farmer, John Beadle, and Anina MajorRead More
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.
“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 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.
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.