Collieson takes centre stage at BNG

Traditionally, the responsibility of a curator was that of caring for a collection of some

kind. This included its conservation, as well as overseeing the development of the

collection. Today, the task of a curator, especially in art museums, is much more than that.

It includes the planning and installation of exhibitions. As such, a curator is a special

kind of artist, in that the job calls for all kinds of creative skills, in order to bring the

exhibition to a successful completion. Each exhibition has its own set of requirements, so

the task of putting together an exhibition is never a "cut and dried" affair.

Without going into all the multitude of details necessary for the creation of a successful

exhibition, suffice it to say that it is time consuming and at the Bermuda National Gallery,

most exhibitions take at least two years from initial concept to opening evening.

The current exhibitions at the BNG are no exception, but, for even those who are regular

attendees at National Gallery events, these exhibitions are bound to be surprising. Much

effort has gone into creating exciting presentations, as well as providing new ways of

perceiving even familiar works from the permanent collection. Add to that, the retrospective

of Will Collieson’s art and you are in for a delightfully diverse experience.

In the lead-up to the opening of the current exhibitions, I visited the BNG a number of

times, and thus was privy to some of the behind-the-scene deliberations on the part of

Curator, Sophie Cressell and the entire BNG team. Much effort has gone into making these

exhibitions a memorable encounter. As an example, consider the exhibit in the Watlington

Room. For those who are BNG regulars, the 16 paintings on show from the European collection,

will be very familiar, but since they are arranged thematically, instead of chronologically,

there is a good possibility of seeing them in refreshing, new ways. Furthermore, the BNG has

had the walls the Watlington Room painted an unusual yellowish green colour. The mention of

that colour might not seem all that suitable, nevertheless, in actuality, it works in two

unexpected, albeit effective ways: it makes the room seem much warmer than previously. The

original light grey walls of this gallery made this space seem cold and unappealing.

Additionally, the new colour makes the space seem more intimate, even smaller.

The Watlington Room exhibition is called Decoding the European Collection. In decoding the

exhibit, the BNG has provided a booklet, with a very helpful essay by Bermudian art historian

Dr Christina Storey. There will be several available, just to the left as you enter the

gallery, and should you have the time to read the essay, you will gain much helpful,

background information on each painting.

In the Lower Mezzanine, there is a small show of paintings by French artist, Elisée Maclet

(1881-1962). He was largely self-taught and specialised in scenes of Paris and occasional

still-life, usually of flowers. As an autodidact, his paintings are often lacking in the

precise observations of trained artists, nevertheless they have great charm and appeal.

Additionally his paintings preserved a slice of Paris, especially the Montmartre of the early

20th century. As in the Watlington Room, the walls of the Lower Mezzanine have also been

painted, in this instance, in terra cotta. The earthy red works well with the Maclet

paintings. It should be noted that these Maclet paintings are from the John Young II and

Nelga Young Collection, which was donated to the Bermuda National Gallery in 2005.
Par oilpaintingsupplie le jeudi 10 mars 2011


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