The Bermuda Isles have been a magnet for artists from all over the world for centuries. Shakespeare’s The Tempest was inspired by Bermuda’s mystique and allusive location; Mark Twain famously referred to Bermuda as “Heaven” and enjoyed various visits; and even John Lennon was immediately taken in by Bermuda’s beauty and culture, and creatively spent much time with his family writing music here.
The attraction of these artistic giants to Bermuda can be attributed to a great many reasons, the most obvious being Bermuda’s beauty. However, the truly unique aspect of what makes Bermuda so beautiful cannot merely be found in one facet of the whole. For example, to say the turquoise and cobalt blue waters are the key source of Bermuda’s beauty is merely the tip on the iceberg. Bermuda is made up of many characteristics — its unique architecture, lush foliage, sparkling waterfront and the unique quality of its people.
Bermudian culture is just as rich and diverse as the famous hues and tones found in its endemic flora. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the art that was made in Bermuda was primarily portraiture or topographies of the island made by British naval officers. This particular art was produced with the sole purpose of historic documentation. Fast-forwarding through history, Bermuda art became more of a local interest for Bermudians who were primarily females interested in landscapes and flora to re-create the beauty they were immersed in daily.
With the advent of tourism and the visit of Princess Louise in 1889, international artists discovered the charms of Bermuda and began recording the island’s beauty in their paintings, sketches and other various mediums.
When the renowned American artist Winslow Homer came to the island first in 1899 and again in 1901, he was so inspired that he proclaimed he “will be remembered by [his] Bermuda work.” He felt this so strongly that he entered these paintings in the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901, which piqued the curiosity of the artists who attended the exhibition. Bermuda was given worldwide exposure to an entirely new array of people, opening its doors to them. And the trickle turned into a torrent. Many of these works returned home with artists and buyers alike. Thus, the notion of the “Bermuda muse” spread around the world!
It is hard to imagine a more vibrant art scene than that which Bermuda is currently enjoying, running the gamut of “plein air” groups, which are growing in popularity due to the gentle climate and fair weather, to “pop-up” exhibitions in which one is immersed in Bermuda art whilst outdoors surrounded by inspiration to world-class collections of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art featuring the Bermuda-inspired pieces of such luminaries as Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe. Other national treasures such as the Bermuda National Gallery highlight its Watlington Collection, whilst the Bermuda Society of Arts and the Bermuda Art Centre at Dockyard are committed to the promotion of the local art community and always have varied and interesting exhibits for visitors and locals alike to enjoy.
The Chewstick Foundation offers a platform for a wide spectrum of the creative community to present their talents varying from poetry readings to performing arts such as musical theatre and interpretive dance. There is something for every interest in the art community and plenty to see.The spirit of the arts is indeed alive and well with the common goal of showcasing the island and the Bermudian people in as many diverse mediums as possible to the widest audience possible.
Museums, Institutes and Galleries
The following is a selection of cultural venues and public art sites. Check with each venue for current exhibitions.
Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard: Established in 1984, the Arts Centre is a nonprofit registered charity that reflects the diverse creativity of the art community in Bermuda. (234-2809; artbermuda.com)
The Bermuda Craft Market: The Bermuda Craft Market in Dockyard has the largest collection of Bermuda-made crafts and products on the island. (234-3208; bermudacraftmarket.com)
Bermuda Historical Society: Housed in the 1814 home of William B. Perot, Bermuda’s first postmaster, is a collection of Bermuda-made silver, furniture and paintings, fine china, maps and coins. (295-2487; [email protected])
Bermuda National Gallery (BNG): Bermuda National Gallery celebrates 25 years in 2017. Join them as they explore The Power of Art in an exhibition that challenges ways of seeing. (295-9428; bng.bm)
Bermuda National Trust: The Bermuda National Trust is a charity established in 1970 to preserve natural, architectural and historic treasures, and to encourage public appreciation of them. (236-6483; bnt.bm)
Bermuda Society of Arts: Often referred to as “The People’s Art Gallery,” the BSoA showcases local artists in four separate gallery spaces. They host a new show every three to four weeks, have a variety of workshops available and celebrate the diverse range of artistic talent that Bermuda has to offer. (292-3824; bsoa.bm)
The Birdsey Studio: Jo Birdsey Linberg, daughter of Bermuda’s first modern artist, Alfred Birdsey, painted for many years with her father at The Birdsey Studio before his death in 1996. Today, she continues the family tradition. Created predominately in watercolour, her impressionistic landscapes, figurative paintings and whimsical animals reflect her mentor’s artistic legacy. (236-6658; [email protected])
Crisson & Hind Fine Art Gallery: Home to a fascinating collection of carved sculptures from Zimbabwe. (295-1117; crissonandhind.com)
Desmond Fountain: An essential destination for art lovers, this gallery in the Elbow Beach Hotel showcases international and local artists’ works alongside the world-famous sculptor Desmond Fountain. (292-3955; desmondfountain.co.uk)
Dockyard Glassworks Glass Gallery & Working Studio: Come see hot molten glass, like light on the move, as creations happen. Relax in their comfy theatre as you experience the expertise and drama. (234-4216; dockglass.com)
Jon Faulkner Gallery: Exquisite handmade contemporary ceramics is the signature feature of the Jon Faulkner Gallery located at The Royal Naval Dockyard. The Gallery represents the work of local master potter, Jon, and other local and international ceramic artists/studio potters offering a diverse range of styles. (234-5116; jonfaulknergallery.com)
Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation: Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation is the first collective guild in Bermuda for the creation and teaching of art in an environment that is inspiring and accessible to the entire community. Adult and children’s art classes offered. (542-9000; kaf.bm)
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art: Masterworks is Bermuda’s only purpose-built museum and is home to more than 1,400 works of Bermuda-inspired art by such famous names as Winslow Homer, Albert Gleizes and Georgia O’Keeffe. (299-4000; bermudamasterworks.com)
National Museum of Bermuda: Immerse yourself in 500 years of history at the National Museum, housed within the island’s largest fort. The 15-acre property includes British military buildings of the Keep citadel and the award-winning Commissioner’s House. (234-1418, 234-1333; nmb.bm)
Nicholas Lusher Fine Antiques and Fine Art: By appointment only. Nicholas deals in Bermudian, European and American art; sculptures; maps; prints; books; coins and much more. (236-8193, 917-698-2090; nicholaslusher.com)
The Picturesque Gallery: The Picturesque Gallery at A.S. Cooper & Sons Ltd. showcases Bermudian photographer Roland Skinner’s best work spanning a 50-year career. (295-3961, ext. 407; picturesquebermuda.com)
The Windjammer 2 Gallery: The gallery has been synonymous with fine art since its inception in 1985. Sheilagh Head, Danjou Anderson and Alexia Cooper have assembled the finest collection of original art by Bermuda’s professional artists. (295-1783)
The World Heritage Centre: Discover why the historic Town of St. George and its related fortifications have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a range of interactive and family-friendly exhibits, including life-size dioramas, informative touch screens and a short orientation film entitled A Stroll Through St. George’s. (297-5791; sgf.bm/about/world-heritage-centre)