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The Bahamas

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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Let’s talk about it: Spoken word artist and rapper And1Dunna’s ‘SLAPS!’ cultivates a ‘summer mood’

Natalie Willis

Kevanté A.C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. Upon first glance, And1Dunna, the Nassauvian poet, may appear to be overly confident. He moves with an indescribable yet magnetic force attached to him like glue, but once you get a bit closer in proximity, you discover he is just your average, down-to-earth wordsmith who opts to pair his poetry over rhythm from time to time. Andrew Gomez, professionally known as And1Dunna, has decided that now is the time for his audience to experience him in the fullness of his rapper persona. Releasing “SLAPS!,” his first mixtape and second musical body of work this past June, allows him to do just that.

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From the Collection: “The Deanery” (1979) by Alton Lowe

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis

The work of Alton Lowe, a realist painter born in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, has an easy appeal for many Bahamians. From landscapes and flora, architecture, to imaginings of Lucayans and Loyalists, his practice gives a sense of joy in his skill of rendering as much as his interest in history - and as a post-World War II baby, it makes sense, given the global conversations around how these events should never be repeated. His interests in preserving the past, that go far beyond his painting interpretations, inspired his founding of the Albert Lowe Museum in Green Turtle Cay, sharing the history and culture of the community he grew up in. He is also responsible for this Nassau-based blast-from-the-past with “The Deanery” painted in 1979.  

Part of the new Permanent Exhibition, “TimeLines: 1950-2007” curated by NAGB Assistant Curator Richardo Barrett, “The Deanery” (1979) gives us a good opportunity to speak about just that - some of the threads and weavings and timelines that lead to the production of this work.

“The Deanery” (1979), Alton Lowe, oil on masonite, 20 x 26 inches. Part of your National Collection.

“The Deanery” (1979), Alton Lowe, oil on masonite, 20 x 26 inches. Part of your National Collection.

This particular piece was part of a larger gift of RBC FINCO to the National Collection upon the establishment of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. FINCO notably hosted art workshops for high-schoolers for years, which helped to nurture some of the more prominent artists in The Bahamas today. Through a series of commissions, the first giving interpretations and documentation of Nassau’s Historical Buildings in 1979, and the second with scenes from Grants Town in 1984. Alongside the likes of Rolfe Harris, Brent Malone, and Eddie Minnis, to name a few, Lowe was among the first commissioned by the bank to produce these scenes of Nassau, capturing and preserving old architecture through their own renderings and imaginings.

Though the Deanery is estimated to have been built around 1710, the three-story stone core building, with its latticed upper verandah, looks to be frozen in time in Lowe’s depiction save for one key detail - a Ford Pinto parked alongside the sidewalk on Cumberland Street. This time period is made all the more palpable in the works’ juxtaposition to the Sanford Sawyer photograph, a young man, afro aloft on a head held high, arms folded confidently behind his iconic “It’s Better In The Bahamas” shirt. The 1700s meets the 1970s, and ideas around preservation of history in reference to national pride and independence collapse into one work.

“The Deanery” (1979) by Alton Lowe displayed as part of the new Permanent Exhibition “TimeLines: 1950-2007” curated by Richardo Barrett.

“The Deanery” (1979) by Alton Lowe displayed as part of the new Permanent Exhibition “TimeLines: 1950-2007” curated by Richardo Barrett.

It can be difficult dealing with these architectural relics of the past, considering how many buildings were constructed by way of forced labour extraction of Black hands and lives. The sentiments of “tear them all down!” and “history is history” run discordantly alongside each other. But remembering that our collective ancestors put their work into these buildings, by force or not, it may also be a disservice to not remember and honour the struggle in that work.  

Works such as “The Deanery” (1979) give us both past and imagined-future Bahamas as a nation going through its reconfiguring post-independence. To know how we stand as an independent nation is also to consider how we deal with our difficult histories, how we recontextualise them when we have agency and power over the storytelling. Lowe’s work gives us a moment of pause to consider how far we have, or haven’t come, how we are dealing with our history and how we are sweeping it under itchy carpets to deal with in the proverbial “later”.  

To view works like this and more in your National Collection, visit the NAGB to see “TimeLines: 1950-2007” which will be on view through June 2020.

Epistemic and Cultural Violence: Powercutting as Light

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. “It is time, finally, to cease being what we are not.” (Quijano). Anibal Quijano (31 May, 2019) and Toni Morrison (5 August, 2019) - two great thinkers have gone. Nicolette Bethel’s 1990 play, Powercut, produced and performed at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, shows what happens in the dark.  Nowadays, lights drop into darkness at least once a day for hours at a time.  The violence of structures invisible to the naked colonised eye is only ever gossiped about.  We are afraid to cease being what we are not, we do not know how to be who we are.  It is the culture of violence and silence revealed through ‘discussions’ around tourism and prostitution, two interlocked economies of pleasure. The Victorian Bahamas avoids discussing these things in the same breath, yet the exoticisation and tropicalisation of space and place speaks to a reality of total erasure of self for what we are not, to pick up on Quijano’s statement.  In “The Visual Life Of Social Affliction,” the upcoming Small Axe Project exhibition which opens at the NAGB on Thursday, August 22nd, we see what we are taught/made not to see; we see the violence of not seeing who we are and the trauma of being held in bondage through invisible structures.  Powercut reveals a lot of the invisible structures, as do the works of recently departed thinkers Anibal Quijano and Toni Morrison. 

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Summer Camp ends on a festive note: MMASC Exhibition and Awards Ceremony held at the NAGB

Natalie Willis

By Katrina Cartwright. On the evening of Thursday, August 1st, 2019 the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas welcomed over 250 individuals to the exhibition opening reception and awards ceremony for its annual Mixed Media Art Summer Camp (MMASC). Attendees were comprised of MMASC campers and camp counsellors, their families and friends, NAGB supporters and staff who all came out to support our young budding creatives who spent 2-4 weeks during the month of July working hard to create one-of-kind artworks that spoke to the camp’s theme “Parading through the Caribbean.” Although the weather was determined to put a damper on the celebration of a major accomplishment for the campers, it could not quell their excitement and joy and the pride of their supporters. Patient parents and friends squeezed into the hot and humid confines of the NAGB’s upper veranda and clapped loudly when awards were distributed and short performances by campers and counsellors were done. 

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The Visual Life Of Social Affliction: Structures of Violence in the Caribbean

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. There is a creole saying, “nou led, nou la” which translates to  “we’re ugly, we’re here,” that is rich in culturally nuanced meaning and shows a serious persistence and insistence on showing up, being here, being present as has been evident in Haiti with the recent riots to protest the Petrocaribe corruption. Structural violence is rife and regionwide. At least we are here, even if we may be ugly.  In Bahamian artist Blue Curry’s The New Riviera (2014), we are not even here. This erasure of us from the scene is yet another form of unperceived structural violence, as we can also see in Curry’s Nassau From Above (2010). The deep silence of being silenced is ominous, and as we do as we are told, we are cradled into death, rocked into oblivion.   

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From the Collection: “Poor Man’s Orchid” (1989) by Sue Bennett-Williams

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis. a portal into the practice of a dedicated educator. The 19th Century marked a period in Britain known as Orchidelirium. Not entirely unlike the Dutch tulip fever, this flower-frenzy was a mad scramble for the exotic, elusive orchid. They became connotative as a symbol of wealth, prestige and knowledge, of the affluence required to secure these items from far-off lands. Sue Bennett Williams’ “Poor Man’s Orchid” (1989) is no such thing and no less beautiful.

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Call For Proposals: Templeton Religion Trust

Natalie Willis

Now Accepting Submissions: Templeton Religion Trust (TRT) is a global charitable trust chartered in 1984 by Sir John Templeton with headquarters in Nassau, The Bahamas, where Sir John lived until his death in 2008. TRT, active since 2012, supports projects and the dissemination of results from projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion. In this initial round, TRT anticipates offering approximately 12 grants — including project grants and experimental pilot or proof-of-concept grants — of up to US$200,000 (or equivalent) for projects lasting 12–18 months (beginning July 2020). Successful grantees from this round may then be invited to submit follow-up proposals for 36-month projects up to US$1,000,000 (or equivalent).

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Doongalik Studios Exhibition Opening: "Love & Fear" featuring work by Dyah Neilson

Natalie Willis

Doongalik Studios Art Gallery will open an exhibition featuring Bahamian artist Dyah Neilson on Thursday, August 15th, 2019 from 6-9pm. Her debut solo show, Love & Fear will feature mostly paintings depicting the battle with anxiety and depression, as well as the love for self that is found in learning to accept mental and emotional struggle and the fight to overcome it. 

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Finding Our Voices: Resisting Violence and Oppression

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. "I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams." - Hamlet, II.ii. Is it a bad dream, a nightmare provoking somnambulance? We all think the best of green gentrification because we have been taught, in spite of the climate sceptics, we need to do something to improve our resilience.  We are also told by the media that while people know about climate change and the havoc it plays in their neighbourhoods, jobs are more important because many of us are one paycheque away from poverty. 

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From the Collection: Jolyon Smith’s “Transformation” (1987) and imagining Black Bahamian futures

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis.  Jolyon Smith’s Transformation (1987) is one of the first works collected for the National Collection at the NAGB, shown in the Inaugural National Exhibition or the INE. To have a work that appears so afrofuturist in its aesthetic speaks volumes for the genre and also for the nascent years of the NAGB in thinking what a National Collection could and should look like. What does a Black future look like, and a Bahamian one at that? 

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Blank Canvas: July 31st, 2019, Women's Wednesdays

Holly Bynoe

On tonight’s "Blank Canvas," we shine a spotlight on “Women’s Wednesdays,” an initiative initiated by Equality Bahamas and is supported by the NAGB. The event has been hosted once per month on our campus for nearly two years. “Women's Wednesdays” was founded as a response to community members' requests for a space to access resources, experts, and practitioners, share knowledge, and engage in conversation with one another.

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NAGB Announces Departure of Chief Curator, Holly Bynoe

Holly Bynoe

Diana Lynn Sands

August 1st, 2019

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) –a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets historic and contemporary Bahamian visual art— announces the departure of the Chief Curator, Holly Bynoe. The NAGB has worked closely with Ms Bynoe on several projects before her formal hiring in 2015. This cooperative partnership will surely continue, for the benefit of the institution and Bahamian artists. 

Bynoe speaks to the public at Double Dutch #7 “Hot Water” opening in August 2018. Image courtesy of Jackson Petit and the NAGB.

Bynoe speaks to the public at Double Dutch #7 “Hot Water” opening in August 2018. Image courtesy of Jackson Petit and the NAGB.

 Bynoe states, “The last years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding of my life. The position at the NAGB has allowed me to do important work in shaping its teenage years. I do not doubt that this work will continue as the institution builds upon its mission and vision well into the future. I would like to thank the Board of the NAGB and the wider artistic community for the tremendous opportunity provided. It allowed us to build a space of generosity and ideas, to foster true cultural and artistic integration. I am fortunate to have had the time, encouragement and support to successfully occupy this position. In truth, the region is lucky to have the NAGB as a forward-thinking institution. I look forward to working with this accrued knowledge to inform my future creative endeavours, as I settle into life in the Southern Caribbean at the end of the year.” 

During Ms Bynoe’s time at the NAGB, she included Bahamian artists in residencies, conferences, and exhibitions throughout the region and internationally. She has presented a broad range of over 50 exhibitions at home during her four-year tenure. These exhibitions have all highlighted Bahamian output and always delivered on the institution’s mandate to educate, uplift and inspire. Ms Bynoe also oversaw the growth and development of the Curatorial Department and trained young Bahamians in the field. The team was encouraged to research and curate exhibitions of their own. As a result, they are now ready to follow in her footsteps. In 2020, the NAGB has agreed to host Tilting Axis, a one of a kind, roving international visual art conference co-founded by Ms Bynoe.

NAGB Executive Director Amanda Coulson states, “While we are all saddened to lose such an integral member of the team, we see this as another opportunity for The Bahamas. We now have a champion, whose heart will always be tied to our islands, out in the greater world. Ms Bynoe is sure to continue to represent and find even more opportunities for us and our artists. The younger team members, who were fortunate enough to work and learn closely from her, now have the expertise to continue to grow our institution. Such a profound relationship that has grown between us over the years will mature and expand as we remain in close contact. We plan to collaborate and continue to find new ways to grow the reach of the Bahamian art world.”

NAGB Closed for Maintenance through Thursday, August 1st.

Holly Bynoe

The NAGB will be CLOSED for maintenance this week, reopening on Thursday, August 1st, 2019. The downstairs galleries will reopen with the new rehanging of the Permanent Exhibition "Timelines: 1973 - 2007" and the new Project Space Exhibition showcasing work from the Mixed Media Art Summer Camp!

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Thank you for bearing with us in this changeover as we continue to give you more great exhibitions! If you need to contact us, call us at (242) 328-5800 or email us at info@nagb.org.bs

Designing for space: Working with possible futures in mind

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell Bennett,The University of The Bahamas. Colonialism and coloniality in design occur when little is left of the past to remind us of the physical reality.  On a recent trip to Cape Town, I had the pleasure of enjoying two spectacular spaces of art and design that showed how important it is to think through purpose and landscape and how the beauty of both can be made functional in the spaces created.  I had the pleasure of stumbling into a nursery that doubled as an apparent antiquarian.  The space was large and well-designed with room to breathe. Form and purpose combined with the art of design to speak to concepts of natural beauty, much like the wave design at the London Aquatic Centre at Stratford designed by Zaha Hadid especially for the 2012 Olympic games and constructed by Balfour Beaty; the perfect example of form, design and purpose merging and blurring lines of functionality and beauty.    

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Popop Forever and Ever

Natalie Willis

 

Kevanté A.C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. Bahamian artist Jodi Minnis pays homage to previous Popopstudios tradition “Sketch24” through her recent performance exhibition .“Sketch24”, a concept conceptualised by the “Popop community,” particularly by master artists John Cox and Heino Schmid, began around the time of 2011 when the University of The Bahamas was still the College of The Bahamas. The event invited emerging student artists to the grounds of Popopstudios, to sketch live models and exhibit the works upon completion of the 24 hours, raising funds for the space. It started at Hillside House, also known as the Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery, with breakfast and wounded up at the contemporary art space, Popopstudios.

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Last Viewing of "Resurrection", "...there are always two deaths" and "Transition at the NAGB on Sunday!

Natalie Willis

Three of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ (NAGB) exhibitions, Resurrection by Chan Pratt, …there are always two deaths by Tessa Whitehead, and Transition by John Saddleton will close on Sunday, July 28th, 2019 at 5:00 P.M. The exhibitions were selected to challenge creative expression, inspire conversation and evoke strong emotional responses from viewers. The public is encouraged to view the impressive paintings currently on display before it is too late.  

Chan Pratt is known as one of the first Bahamian visual artists to successfully transition from the corporate world to follow his passion and go on to produce breathtaking works of art. The posthumous exhibition celebrates his life and creativity with over 90 pieces. In the company of the great Chan Pratt, John Saddleton’s dreamy visuals captures the intense light and beautiful hues of the Bahamian landscape and invites viewers to travel through the archipelago imaginatively.

“Leaves” (1985). Chan Pratt. Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”. Image courtesy of Gia and Don Kester.

“Leaves” (1985). Chan Pratt. Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”. Image courtesy of Gia and Don Kester.

Additionally, Resurrection is a must-see with its vibrant display of landscapes exploding with colour. On the other hand, the first solo exhibition by Tessa Whitehead, …there are always two deaths, is an extraordinary body of work. It is dark, haunting and deeply profound. Her work covers an array of subjects such as rejection, the past and folklore.  Whitehead also focuses on the arduous journey that entails moving through the 21st century as a Bahamian woman.

“The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is proudly showing an eclectic mix of art by Chan Pratt, John Saddleton and Tessa Whitehead. The Resurrection, Transition and …there are always two deaths exhibitions are beautiful depictions by gifted artists with very different styles and techniques,” Holly Bynoe, Chief Curator, said. “As the leading art institution in The Bahamas, the NAGB will continue to actively nurture and provoke a healthy cultural ecosystem by exhibiting historical and contemporary Bahamian art. We encourage the public to take advantage of the opportunity to see the phenomenal work of talented Bahamian artists.”

“This Is For That Day” (2018). Tessa Whitehead. Oil on canvas, 51” x 64”. Image and works courtesy of the artist.

“This Is For That Day” (2018). Tessa Whitehead. Oil on canvas, 51” x 64”. Image and works courtesy of the artist.

In honour of these monumental exhibitions, the NAGB Mixed Media Store has the official Chan Pratt Resurrection brochure, and Tessa Whitehead’s …there are always two deaths catalogue available for purchase. If you would like to know more about upcoming exhibitions, programming or rental opportunities available at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, please visit https://nagb.org.bs/ or call 242.328.5800.

ALISTAIR D. STEVENSON’S “MATERIAL BEAUTY” TO OPEN AUGUST 1

Holly Bynoe

Alistair D. Stevenson’s Artist Statement for "Material Beauty" states that: “From a traditional perspective, porcelain as we know it simply exists within the china closets of our family homes displaying decorative ceramic objects which have existed in our families for generations. Yet since modern artists began experimenting with new methods to approaching Art, porcelain has also taken its place in the world of contemporary fine art.

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“Alistair Stevenson's "Material Beauty" is one example of this progression of ceramic art into the 21st century.  His oversized, expressive porcelain jewelry pieces seek to materialise the importance of beauty for human beings and its place in our daily lives.

“Each individual porcelain "bead" originates as a found or sometimes purchased object usually coming from nature such as stones, wood, fruits, vegetables, and corals.  Non-natural objects appear within the work as well, some including a fire-hydrant cover, vases, spheres, styrofoam, weights etc.

Works by Alistair Stevenson

Works by Alistair Stevenson

“These objects are then cast in porcelain using plaster moulds, creating a surplus of replicas.  The beads are then fired in a kiln to approximately 1300 degrees and later strung together to create large and not so functional jewelry pieces.  

“The bead selection process for each piece is both sporadic and intentional as there is no particular planning for how the works should be arranged, although most pieces are arranged in a symmetrical composition. Symmetry here expresses this desire to achieve a superficial sense of beauty via the idea of balance and perfection.

“The finished jewelry pieces develop into seemingly primitive or tribal objects which have strong ties to nature. They appeal to the origins of where beauty would have begun in ancient cultures alluding to the idea that the concept of beauty itself is primitive. It is an everlasting concept which seems to never escape the human psyche and, as a result, beauty itself is simply immortal.  

‘Having grown up along the glistening white sandy shores and beautiful yet treacherous limestone cliffs of Long Island, Bahamas, Stevenson's work has always been inspired by nature.  His compositions of natural forms and textures attest to this, allowing viewers to connect with nature inside the concrete walls of a gallery space.

 ‘Stevenson's visual art education began with an Associate's degree in Fine Art from the University of The Bahamas.  Following this, he completed a Bachelor's degree in Ceramic Art at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, Jiangxi Province, China and is presently studying for a Master's degree in Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. “

Works by Alistair Stevenson

Works by Alistair Stevenson

 The public is invited to join the artist at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery at #20 Village Road on Thursday, August 1st from 6pm - 9pm to celebrate the opening of "Material Beauty".  The works will be on display until August 14th and will be available for purchase to aide with Stevenson's post-graduate educational pursuits in Beijing, China.