By in Exhibitions, Previous Exhibitions on July 26, 2011

Margot Bethel’s solo exhibition – “Departure” opens Saturday August 13 at Popopstudios, featuring her new mixed media work and paintings.

Margot Bethel is a Bahamian artist and designer with an active interest in the environmental movement. Born in Nassau, Margot worked at The Nassau Guardian as a student reporter in her early twenties and shortly thereafter migrated to her mother’s homeland, Canada. In Toronto, she worked with a number of artists and designers in furniture and retail design and in the film and television industry. She studied Permaculture at the Ecology Retreat Centre and more recently Architecture at Ryerson University. In 2004, Margot followed her heart back to her birthplace and formed a company, Nomad Design where she intertwines her love of the natural environment with her design experience.

Bethel is co-founder of The Hub, a versatile, collaborative space located in Nassau that facilitates the sharing of ideas and resources across disciplines, particularly in the arts. She also hosts a radio show in The Bahamas entitled “Making It” on Island FM 102.9 where she spotlights people who are “making it” in every area of creativity in The Bahamas.

Bahamian Art Historian Krista Thompson writes of her new show Departure in a review entitled “Time on A Two Dimensional Plane: Margot Bethel’s Departure,” “Margot Bethel’s Departure series of paintings on wood, with their amber color, glossy finish, and layers upon layers of symbols and patterns, similarly bring together, hold in visual suspension, what the artist describes as ‘time on a two dimensional plane.’

“Many of the paintings, those titled The Best Laid Plans, incorporate markings from or representations of objects that connote specific periods of time as well as artistic patterns that have constantly reoccurred in Bethel’s work as an artist and designer, some of which spring from her artistic imagination as she passes the time. Bethel also pictures across these paintings and in some of the sculptural work included in the exhibition symbols that give visual form to, that aim to capture and materialize, the ephemerality of time, from the cycle of the moon, light, and an hourglass timer, to fetal and even microscopic forms. While the work manifests the impact, the visual traces of multiple temporalities at once, and Bethel describes how she could add markings to the work in perpetuity, the series emphasizes less the accumulation and culmination of time than its eternal quality.

“Bethel’s work also highlights issues of temporality in her choice of materials, which calls attention to preexisting visual forms or processes of art making. She quite literally draws out the natural patterns and grains of the wood, which form the basis of many of the paintings.

“In the Ascension panels, she saws into the wood highlighting its distinct shapes and colors. Bethel also employs found objects—gas tanks, bottles, and beverage holders (all of which seem to recall past consumption)—that display interesting and, at times, even ancient qualities of design and symbolism. Some of the work in the series too is based originally on the materials, the artistic markings, that developed as she was creating other pieces in her workshop. Her artistic process then is one that at times conceals itself, bringing out what was there before. It represents in this way a doubling back, an addition that amounts to a subtraction, a departure and perpetual return.”

– Written by Krista Thompson – Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of An Eye for the Tropics (2006) and articles in American Art, Art Bulletin, Representations, The Drama Review, and Small Axe.