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Culture of Entitlement 2 - Edwin ME Smith
Image  |  Bermuda National Gallery
We are going to preface this by saying that the images accompanying this post will not do the art justice.  This year the Bermuda Biennial was split between two locations.  A "soft" opening was held at The BNG East in the Town of St George's on June 14 and yesterday saw the opening of the main show at the BNG's gallery in Hamilton.  The theme of this year's show A View From the Edge, could have fallen easily into cliché, but the artists chosen to exhibit instead demonstrated a subtly in responding to the mandate and the resulting artwork was, in the main, moving and thought-provoking.  Many of the artists were born and brought up on the island or spent large parts of their formative years in Bermuda and therefore have a unique perception of the island, its history, culture, limitations and isolation which must naturally flow from being a small landmass in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without the benefit of the proximity of other islands that its neighbours to the south enjoy.  Persons who perhaps are not born and brought up on the island generally tend to see it differently from the native Bermudian.  Tourists and visitors see the beauty which is evident on surface but may not be as familiar with the darker undercurrent born of the island's history, culture and size.

Some of the standout works included James Cooper's treatment of photographs as sculpture.  This time geometric strips of the image carefully placed to draw attention to the horizon were peeled back revealing coloured swatches painted on the wall behind.  There was a hypnotic draw to Catherine CR Lapsley's paintings which used a grid system as a metaphor for the self-imposed restriction which mirrors life in Bermuda contained as it is by the island's size, isolation and natural beauty.  Ami Zander's mixed media piece using yarn and found objects was visually striking and dealt with the vulnerable and underrepresented in society, but it did call to mind the work of Jamaican artist Ebony J Patterson who exhibited at the BNG in 2012.

We are always appreciative when local traditions are reinterpreted and no one did this better than Edwin ME Smith whose mixed media pieces Culture of Entitlement 1 and Culture of Entitlement 2 (pictured above) address the traditionally Bermudian practice of marking out one's spot or camping along a parade route days, and now sometimes weeks, in advance but were also reminiscent in our mind of the way in which the island was carved up and divided into tribes by European settlers.

The 2014 Biennial opens to the public today and runs until November 22.

Ajani - Bermuda - Meredith Andrews
In My Life Number Seven - Catherine CR Lapsley
jpeg 13  (Detail) - Signe Constable
Nary the Twain Shall Meet (Detail) - Russell de Moura
Prime Abstracts - Yellow/Orange Shift - Teresa Kirby Smith
Southlands - James Cooper
View from the Edge of Abbot's Cliff In One Part  (Detail) - Vaughan Evans
Untitled (A Form Fading Amongst Fading Forms Nos. 1 and 2) - Charlie Godet Thomas
Images  |  Bermuda National Gallery


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