“Full Fathom Five” Mural Unveiled in North Eleuthera

Local artist and the NAGB work together to bring public art to the Eleutheran community

By Zearier Munroe-Wilkinson

The NAGB team is pleased to announce the completion of the Full Fathom Five mural, commissioned by the The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) as a part of our Mural Programme. This new addition to our Family Island murals was conceptualised and created by Eleuthera-based artist Dede Brown. It has found its permanent home at the Gregory Town Pineapple Festival Park on the island of Eleuthera.

As with most of our Family Island murals, Full Fathom Five was commissioned for completion as an accompaniment to our bi-annual Inter-Island Travelling Exhibition (ITE) programme, last held in-person in March of 2020. Understandably, when the world changed, the mural project had to be put on hold until it could be completed safely with the community. The aim of the Mural Programme is to engage local artists and community members in the creation of a public art project that holds significance to the community. It is always our intention to ensure that the community has full ownership of the artwork; this typically means the artist is from the community and community members usually participate in both the design and painting process.

Brown, in keeping with the Inter-Island Traveling Exhibition’s theme, “From Time: Water Has A Perfect Memory” designed a piece with the intention to embody and merge local marine life with local culture in a large-scale, colourful mural that is celebratory, impactful and informative.

This project tells a strong, visual narrative that impacts Bahamians and visitors alike – expanding our awareness of the surrounding marine environment and paying homage to pineapple farming, a once lucrative agricultural practice. Since 1988, Gregory Town has hosted its annual Pineapple Festival, which celebrates the tradition of harvesting pineapples and is held during the annual pineapple harvest.

The mural features lined seahorses, octopi, brittle stars, crabs, clams and other organisms found in Sweetings Pond, a land-locked saltwater pond, located near the settlement of Hatchet Bay. It also features the opening of the underwater cavern found in Sapphire Blue Hole and the various sea life found within.

Pineapple crowns sit on the heads of a young man and woman who are featured on the upper half of the mural. The crowns symbolise strength and empowerment, encouraging us to further engage and learn about our history, our environment, the impact of climate change and how we can rebuild consciously to ensure a more sustainable future.

With such an impactful design, this mural was one that we had to complete despite geographical and pandemic-related challenges. So, once it was safe for painting to resume, we did so with COVID safety protocols strictly enforced. This meant very few people working on the mural at any given time, a longer installation process and a longer completion time for the painting process. We are therefore so grateful to the Gregory Town community and the wider Eleutheran community for their patience and commitment in seeing the project come to fruition.

The muralist, Dede Brown, is an interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture and installation. She has formally trained and worked in the fields of Interior Design and Photography, which greatly influences her creative process. As she is located in Spanish Wells, she showed great dedication to this project over the last year, making frequent trips to mainland Eleuthera and rallying community support for the project. Without her on-the-ground leadership this would not be possible and the NAGB is so happy to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented, committed artist.

We would also like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated and assisted with this project, especially Joan and Billy Braithwaite, Julie and Steve Motti, Geoff O’Connell, Patsy, Allen, Kino, Kevin, Roderick and Allan for donating their time, materials, and efforts towards this mural. And finally, we extend an extra special thank you to The Gregory Town Commission and the Eleuthera Ministry of Tourism who are responsible for the Gregory Town Pineapple Festival Park and have been supportive of the project in every way possible from start to finish.

This magnificent two-piece mural, each piece 18 feet high, is a testament to the community’s spirit, togetherness and culture. We are delighted to have played a part in such an important endeavour. In the modern context, murals serve as visual stimuli and vehicles for community and institutional transformation. Where there are murals, there is colour, there is a tale, there is memory. Murals serve as inspiration for hundreds of people and as creative fuel for artists and creatives.

The NAGB’s Mural Programme is dedicated to fostering community collaborations and partnerships. It is one of several NAGB outreach initiatives that focus on involving communities in the creation of art while increasing the museum’s presence throughout The Bahamas and fostering an awareness and knowledge of the National Collection. If you would like us to visit your community, please reach out for more information at [email protected].