The Blank Canvas: January 25, Margot Bethel and Leanne Russell

Continuing to focus on artists participating in this year’s NE8 (Eighth National Exhibition), NAGB’s Director, Amanda Coulson, is joined this week by artists Margot Bethel and Leanne Russell, both of whose work uses diverse materials, creating immersive or interactive pieces, both of which discuss gender roles or perceptions of gender in our society.

Margot is a carpenter, builder, designer, and artist and she uses her expertise with materials in her installations, which often creates a whole environment. Margot is part of the intellectually outstanding and artistic Bethel clan (E. Clement, Keva, Dr. Nicolette, etc.) and her father worked in The Guardian building, where we tape the show (Margot even worked here as a student reporter), but later moved to Canada for many years.

Back home in Nassau, she was integral in the founding of The Hub art space. For the NE, Margot’s work entitled: “Portal: There’s a WHole in the Bucket” is an immersive work into which the viewer can enter and walkthrough, engaging with objects hung from a slatted wooden ceiling. Light and sound are incorporated into the piece, which speaks to women’s roles in society and the burdens, physical, mental, and otherwise, that they often carry.

Leanne, meanwhile, lives and works in Abaco and is a regular participant in the NE’s. We discuss the challenges of being part of the art community while living on a Family Island and the difficulties that present themselves and how we are, as a community, trying to remediate those. Her work for the NE8 is entitled “Muddle and Match: Moral Luck” and, like Margot’s work, also uses different materials in a unique way to create an interactive piece. Leanne speaks to this re-use or re-purposing of materials as part of her upbringing on a Family island where nothing ever went to waste. Her artwork also speaks to gender, though in this case the perception of gender and its potential for fluidity.

Tune in on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. to the Blank Canvas on Guardian Talk Radio to listen to these stories.