The 2015 Charman Prize was awarded last Friday at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Always a popular event, it brought more than 100 established and emerging Bermudian artists together in one arena. After the show was held in 2013, the organisers announced that the event would take place biennially ostensibly to improve the quality of the submissions. There are a number of problems that changing the event in this way did not necessarily resolve, including the fact that as the artists must use Bermuda as their muse and inspiration, the same tropes appear year after year. Some artists, such as Alan C Smith with his entry Big Naked Gombeys, appear to recognise this fact and embrace it with humour and irony but overall the result is that Bermudian flora and fauna and landscapes and architecture continue to be well represented. It is inevitable therefore that the artists who manage to portray iconic aspects of Bermudian culture in new or different ways such as Stratton Grant West Hatfield's concrete rendering of a palm leaf made the most impact.
When the same tropes reoccur, the other differentiating factor is proficiency and in the end the most technically proficient artists tend to take the top prizes. The main award this year went to Chris Dawson's Three Queens, a well-thought-out and executed piece that referenced life in Bermuda but still managed to be universal in its appeal. Similarly, Jacqueline Alma received the Masterworks Collection Prize and one of the judge's choice prizes for her panoramic portrayal of the island's electricity company, a subject that was undeniably local although not traditionally so.
The Charman Prize runs until January 8, 2016.
|Three Queens (Detail) - Chris Dawson|
|Call of the Gombeys - Theresa Airey|
|Out Pickin' - Johnathan Marc Boden|
|BELCO - Jacqueline Alma|
|Vitamin Sea - Lee Kitson-Perry|
|Maighdean Mhara (Detail) - Carol Gracie|
|In Granny's Bed with the Papers (Detail) - Sharon R Wilson|
|Jus Sanguinis, Jus Soli... - Jack Thomas|
|Neil's World - Graham C Foster|
|Bermuda Walls - Lbby Cook-Toppan|
Bermuda Palmetto Leaf - Stratton Grant West Hatfield
Images | island*atelier