If you don’t know this already, art is very important in the history of Bermuda and is still very much alive today.
The competition for the People’s Choice best artist award was animated and the winner 2011 is contemporary artist Graham Foster. The 41-year-old Bermudian artist is well-known for his detailed paintings of Bermuda’s inhabitants, fish, flora and fauna.
His biggest and probably most famous piece of art is the huge mural ‘The Hall of History’ of the National Museum of Bermuda (formerly known as the Bermuda Maritime Museum). Measuring 1,000 square foot and spread along two storeys, the piece illustrates five centuries of the island’s history and took about three and a half years, or 7,000 hours, to be achieved. The Hall of History was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on November 2005, on which occasion she was given a painting by Graham Foster called ‘The Wreck of the Sea Venture’ depicting the event that lead to the creation of Bermuda.
His first love was sculpture in which he focused during his studies at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. The initial lack of space when he returned to Bermuda meant that he turned to painting. His style has two faces. One is mainly surreal and makes use of bold colours and humorous elements to create the vision of his beloved native Bermuda. When he doesn’t paint the island, he uses a more expressionist style to create pieces that draw their inspiration from dreams and the subconscious.
Professional artist since 1995, Graham Foster got back to sculpture, more accurately steel welding, in 2000 after he found a bigger studio. In sculpture as well, his style is influenced by the island and its surrounding ocean. The marine life inspired his first welding series called Frankenstein Fish, steel fishes covered in spine and warts.
He then developed an interest for blacksmithing and used this technique in his next project heavily influenced by tribal art, another important aspect of the Bermudian culture. The triptych he produced was what he imagined tribes could have created if they have had access to these techniques. It was a success and the ’21st Century Fetish Family’ became the first work of a Bermudian artist to be bought for the permanent collection of The Bermuda National Gallery.
Although not many can afford to buy any of the artist’s sculpture, the many themed paintings Graham Foster undertake each year are turned into lithographic prints which are printed and titled and can be bought. He has solo exhibitions that can be seen at the Masterworks Foundation and the Ace Gallery, as well as having shown his work many times at the editions of the Bermuda National Gallery biennial exhibition.
Graham Foster work is also part of private collections such as those of The Bermuda Anglican Cathedral, The Bank of Bermuda, Ace Insurance, Bausch and Lombe New York, Bermuda Commercial Bank, The Masterworks Foundation and Allianz Re. It is fair to say that he is not only the best artist, as recognised by the People’s Choice Award from The Bermudian, but also the most known of the island’s artists. His art, whether it is sculpture or painting, is an homage to Bermuda, its people, its nature and its heritage.
Graham Foster Bermuda – P.O. Box FL510, Flatts, FLBX; 01441 799 9126; http://www.grahamfoster.com
Graham Foster Bermuda – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles – ‘Things to do in Bermuda’ series!
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