Transforming Spaces Tickets Available Now

By in News on March 10, 2012

Transforming Spaces Tickets are $30 and are now on sale at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (328-5800/1) and Doongalik Studios Art Gallery on Village Road (394-1886).

Sue Bennet-Williams prepares one of her ceramic pieces to be on display at the NAGB during the Transforming Spaces 2012 art tour next month. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.

The annual island-wide art tour of galleries on Nassau, Transforming Spaces, is set for its eighth year on the weekend of March 24 and 25. Where galleries usually curated their spaces in the past, this year artists created work under the theme of “Fibre” in order to explore art made out of native materials. With eight art spaces displaying work by over 50 artists, viewers can expect to see a range of innovative contemporary Bahamian artwork.

Tickets are $30 and are now on sale at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (328-5800/1) and Doongalik Studios Art Gallery on Village Road (394-1886).

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

The Transforming Spaces art tours have always begun at the same place The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas on West Hill Street. Yet the institution itself didn’t take part. For the first time this year, The NAGB will put on a display to launch tour guests on a different journey.

Before embarking on the tour buses to visit galleries full of contemporary Bahamian art pieces that push native material to the limit, tour guests can dip their toes into the theme at the NAGB.

Featuring work by three Bahamian straw vendors Caroline Wright, Elizabeth Nixon, and Alice Kolp the NAGB will put traditional modes of using native material like straw in the spotlight in order to begin what will become a fascinating narrative of Bahamian creative expression.

“I thought it would be the perfect beginning to the story because we are going to start the tour here and give a talk on the overall idea of the theme before the tour begins,” says Chief Curator at the NAGB, John Cox .”It may start conversations on the bus and will segue into the contemporary work.”

“I think it’s the perfect jumping-off point because people are familiar with it to a degree,” he adds. “I think most people think of straw when they hear the theme but don’t have the real information. So I thought we could set up a mini-market and try to show a real solid example of the traditional straw practice here.”

In addition, the NAGB will present work by two Bahamian artists Sue Bennett-Williams and Jeffrey Meris whose installations both inside and outside of the gallery walls will prepare viewers for the ways they will see native material used in sometimes very non-traditional ways.

Besides providing the perfect introduction for tour participants, such a display collapsing past and present into one space also ties into the institution’s current efforts to be an all-inclusive space to the Bahamian community, points out Director of the NAGB, Amanda Coulson.

“We have Sue, a teacher at the College of The Bahamas, and a student, Jeffrey, whose work is on display, and along with the traditional crafts and their contemporary work, we’re trying to encompass the whole range of what’s going on here in the tour,” she says. “We’re trying to show that it can all exist on the same platform.”

Doongalik Studios Art Gallery

On the eastern end of the island, far from the hub of downtown art spaces, sits Doongalik Studios Art Gallery.

One of the largest gallery spaces, Doongalik will display the work of fourteen artists in a wide range of media including installations, sculptures, ceramics, mixed media work and paintings utilizing such native fibres as straw, coconut bark and fronds, leaves, and even human hair.

Such a range is a testament to the unexpected variety tour guests can expect from the work on display in this space, says Pam Burnside, the gallery owner.

“I think they’re just looking at the material and trying to use it in a different way,” she says. “Traditionally people using the straw would make a bag, but we have people who are taking the straw and then using it to make a mask. It’s just about the way they’re using the material.”

“It’s nice to have the variety we’re having and I think the patrons are going to be excited to find all of these ways of using these materials,” she adds. “Even for the paintings, some of the people who aren’t traditional painters came up with really exciting methods.”

With extensive garden grounds, like with the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, tour guests can expect to see work on display outside as well, such as pieces hanging from trees, providing the work with another context besides gallery walls.

Exciting too, says Burnside, is that over half of the artists at this space have not shown as part of the eight- year-long tour before nine out of fourteen, to be exact which will provide tour guests with unseen local talent.

“I hope they are blown away and I’m glad they’ll see some newcomers on the art scene especially here at Doongalik because they’re used to seeing the same people probably who have exhibited here before,” says Burnside.

“Nine out of 14 new faces is quite a jump, and I think for people to see what these new artists are coming with, and for these artists to display their work with the established artists to get some sort of credence, is exciting.”

Sonia Farmer,
The Nassau Guardian
Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012

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