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This was a less frenetic year in terms of the number of posts that were published.  One of the highlights of which we were proud was the fact that for the entire month of December only local (and by that we mean Bermudian) content was published, a goal which we will attempt to replicate next year.  On to the year end review, we had several posts tie - which rarely happens - and the popular posts featured a good mix topics from fashion to interior design to retail and trends.  Have a look after the jump to see who took the top honours and  click on the name of each post to revisit the original entry.

Thanks for a great year and see you in 2016!

Looking for a last minute present?  How about this adorable stuffed animal from Tricia Abbott Walters?  This little, handmade toy and her friends are available at Dockyard.

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We love these graphic children's shoes from Threadz.
Cloud House Studios is a line of contemporary fabrics, soft furnishings and accessories that are based on tropical, botanical designs.  Designer Fay Bush has previously dabbled in photography, painting and interior design, and this latest project is the perfect marriage of her artistic sensibilities.  It came about when she noticed a void in the market whilst working as an interior designer.  At that time, she noticed how difficult it was to source the patterns and designs she wanted, so she created her own using abstracted plant shapes such as leaves, palm berries, pods and palm fronds as inspiration.  The result combines graphic and geometric patterns that are printed on crisp linen cotton canvas and are infused with the highly-saturated colours that are a reflection of the environment she loves the most.
Image  |  BermuniTees
Bermudians have always had a great philanthropic spirit, but in this season especially it's nice to see a new way of giving back.  From their pop-up shop in the Washington Mall, BermuniTees are offering a line of unisex cotton t-shirts that have been printed with local images, words and phrases using eco-friendly inks.  Part proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will be donated to a local charity of your choice.
Photographer and sometime videographer Melanie Fiander's first solo show in Bermuda opened at the Bermuda Society of Arts last Friday.  Entitled Salt Stories: 10 Years Later, the show comprises three photographic essays that have one common, unifying element: salt.  The mineral is present in the literal as well as the figurative sense in her images, from the salt of the sea, to the sweat shed on the dance floor at a wedding to the tears of sorrow at the loss of a loved one.  In her work, Fiander seeks to portray the honest, unguarded moments exhibited by her subjects and refers to those occasions as “salt moments”.  The three series, "Fiander Foto: Weddings", "Like Father, Like Son" and "Aunt Mary", consist of a sample of her candid, almost documentary-style wedding photographs, a collection of raw and uncensored photos depicting the toil of Fiander's husband and father-in-law in their work as deep-sea fishermen in the waters off Bermuda and a moving photo essay that was shot at her great aunt’s house in New York in October of this year. 

The images, which were taken over a four year period between 2011 and 2015, depict events both in Bermuda and Fiander's homeland of the United States and the collection takes the viewer on a wide-ranging emotional journey.  They reflect intimate and harrowing topics such as loss and loneliness, but also provide glimpses of joy, pride and unadulterated happiness.  In hindsight, it appears that we viewed the show in reverse order, but we are glad we made this mistake as what was our final viewing - the "Aunt Mary" series - had the strongest emotional pull.  By moving from happiness to grief, in this way, the show resonated more strongly with us. 

Salt Stories continues until January 6, 2016.
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Sadly, we're late to this party. Designer Oneka Benn Schwartz recently left the island, but during her time here created a beautiful Bermuda-based homeware line that specialised in custom-made furnishings. Benn Schwartz, who studied Textile and Surface Design at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, collaborated with The Island Shop to bring her window treatments, linens, lampshades, table linens and home fragrances to the market.  Benn Schwartz held her final trunk show earlier this month and a few of her pieces, such as this lucite and agate napkin ring, are still available.

In October, Bermuda played host for the first time to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series, a yacht racing circuit which will culminate in a final that is to be held on the island in 2017.   Sailors complete on foiling, wing-sailed 45ft catamarans known as AC45s. To commemorate the race, a competition was held encouraging artists and designers to create the trophy. The competition was won by Bermudian multi-disciplinary creative studio Uber Super Duper whose creative director Sami Lill conceived a design that is based on the concept of balance, this being an integral part of the sport of sailing as well as a metaphor for the give and take between human engineering and the forces of nature.  Lill wanted to create a truly local award, so the trophy was made in Bermuda using the knowledge and skill of local residents including woodworker Vibio Festa, fishermen Blake and Jim West, artist Desmond Fountain and engineer Bill Andrews amongst others.

The trophy is made from silicone bronze, a material used mainly for sculptures and marine construction and features a replica of an AC45 balancing on its hydrofoil on top of a hollow sphere.  It is kinetic (see video after the jump) but has been weighted to balance on its own.  The counterweight inside the trophy was created by experimenting with smelting lead from various local sources including a keel from an International One Design Fleet (the oldest actively raced fleet in Bermuda), a Bermuda fisherman's downrigger ball and the reclaimed sash weight of an old Bermuda cottage.

The finished piece weighs just over 10 pounds and lists at exactly 32 degrees which is the latitude of Bermuda on the globe.  

Traditional representations of Bermuda can be found everywhere: from postcards to calendars, posters and t-shirts.  While we're not disparaging these portrayals, it is refreshing to see representations of the island which are slightly more unconventional.  About a year ago we discovered Nettleink, a brand whose artists are influenced by the nature, culture, history and people of the island, but who seek to answer the question of what is local in a different way.  Using vintage or historical images of the island which are not necessarily picture postcard perfect or by stripping down its flora and fauna, they have created an eye-catching line of soft finishings and stationery all the while not straying from their inspiration.  Their designs also often feature phrases pulled from the local vernacular which, when combined with their imagery, create a graphic, witty and undeniably local brand.

Nettleink recently launched three new textile lines: Deveined, Grapeseed and Coral Canvas all of which have deconstructed, abstract imagery.  Deveined is inspired by the Monstera leaf which is found in abundance all over the island, Grapeseed is an Ikat print that has been spun from a single cedar twig, while with Coral Canvas, the inspiration for the Rorschach-like print was taken from the coral reefs that surround Bermuda, the curving, organic shapes of which were then overlaid with a henna illustration.

Nettleink products are available exclusively from Urban Cottage.

Artist and graphic designer Avarie Graham is fond of flowers and the beautiful blooms show up often in her work.  With this, her Botanical Pattern series, she deconstructs and reinterprets flowers in a new and dramatic way.  The stunning images are captured using scannography and seem to explode out of the darkness.

You can have a look at more of Graham's art here.

Image  |  Atelerie via Instagram
Earlier this year, local boutique Atelerie commissioned South African ceramist, playwright, sculptor and author Theo Kleynhans to create a series of ceramic pieces using Bermuda as his muse.  The result is this collection of black earthenware clay plates on which local imagery such as the outline of the island, a fitted dinghy, a palmetto tree and the Bermudiana flower have been etched.  The plates are rendered in a limited palette of black and white but are lustred in 24 karat gold.  For Kleynhans, the alchemy involved in his creative process is reminiscent of something ancient and magical. 
Several months ago the National Museum of Bermuda commissioned the creation of a fantastical new playground for children.  The playground was always intended to be the first part of a new interactive fun zone, the second phase of which - The Museum Playhouse - was recently completed.

One of the many historic stone buildings adjacent to the playground has been converted into an interactive playroom.  The focal point of the room consists of a three-dimensional sleeping sailor's head featuring a tactile rope beard on which children can learn to tie nautical knots.  Each of the fifteen displays is based on some aspect of local history and culture with the intention that children should have fun while learning.

The Playhouse was designed by Russell DeMoura and James Cooper and includes works commissioned from Emma Sloan and Sami Lill. 

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A bundle of beautiful bracelets from Bermy Urchins Studio.

We are not ones to shy away from a challenge, whether it be taking and posting ten photographs on Instagram in a single day (it's a lot harder than it looks) or deciding to feature only local content here for the entire month of December. You might think this shouldn't be too difficult to do, and you'd be right if we lived somewhere with a population of a million or even a couple of hundred thousand to choose from, but with a populace that numbers around 60,000 it is a little bit of a challenge, but one that hopefully can be met. Despite the size of the population, there are quite a few amazingly talented people here.  We started the month with a look at photographer Meredith Andrews' annual countdown.  Next up, the patterned pottery pieces (say that quickly) of Jon Faulkner.

Faulkner creates contemporary items using the age-old method of salt glazing in a kiln that he designed himself, and it is the salt glaze that gives his work its distinctive and unusual texture.  The functional crockery as well as the more decorative pieces are created on site at a studio-cum-gallery located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda.  The line is designed so that items such as the bowls, plates and tableware can be acquired with a view to creating a collection or alternatively one-off, statement pieces like the Bartmann or Bellarmine jug (pictured after the jump), which is a beautifully rendered replica of a vessel found on the shipwreck of the Sea Venture, can be used to add impact to any interior. 

If we're honest with you, we've been counting down the days until December 1, not because we can feel less guilty about binging-watching the schmaltzy holiday movies that have been on repeat since October, but because we've been looking forward to photographer Meredith Andrews' annual photographic countdown on Instagram.  Andrews is great at using ordinary items to create striking images that put a twist on this special time of year.  

You can follow along with her countdown here.