Tom Butterfield from the Masterworks Foundation spoke to us on the Importance of Bermudiana Art. 

            Bermuda is, by and large, a sporting culture; understandably, climate, environment, and traditional emphasis have placed sport in an echelon that it richly deserves, however, although it may surprise many, we are not ENTIRELY a nation of jocks! In fact, Bermuda has produced world-class writers, filmmakers, photographers, fashion designers and recording artists. In many cases, our local artists are appreciated abroad more than they are at home.

 

I firmly believe that in these tumultuous times there is a need for the uplifting of the human spirit, and the Museum could be just the tonic! You can come to the Museum with your family, picnic in the Botanical Gardens-35 acres of Bermuda's precious open space- then visit us and linger with wonderful artwork on display and enjoy our large collection of books in the library or enrol yourself in one of our classes or workshops. If nothing else, a visit will make you feel better and proud to be living in Bermuda.

            We try to make sure our programs champion the philosophy of our mission-art inspired by Bermuda-and to this end, every summer our art classes are sold out by March and they keep on expanding by popular demand.2009 was the second year for the Charman Prize an "open to all' art competition sponsored -most generously-by local businessman John Charman who has put up over $25,000 in prizes.  A museum is an archive. It is also the sum of its collective past, present and future. It engages the community in thought and dialogue and should take an active role in its consciousness. Therefore if a museum's responsibility is to collect, preserve, interpret and study it has an added purpose to exchange and change exhibitions to broaden its appeal. Art, no matter what its form, plays a role through out human existence.

            For a museum to be effective, it must fully engage in the practice of being socially conscious and acutely aware of the need to translate this knowledge into an understandable educational format. I firmly believe that the ONLY thing a person can take with him or her anywhere they go in the world is what they have learned, and for many the learning environment should be one that they can easily relate to. In order to achieve this goal, we have developed a very special event called "Arts for All" which began in 2005-a semi-annual week of free art classes organized by the highly regarded founders of the charity program from London. Fortunately, a number of corporations have sponsored this event which has allowed families, budding young artists and those who would otherwise be unable to take art classes if they were not free, to experience the thrill of creativity.

            On the other end of the spectrum- I would hazard a guess that many of the inmates at Westgate today might have followed a different path if only they were able to channel their creative energies in a CONSTRUCTIVE rather than DESTRUCTIVE direction. When the work of the inmates-both male and female- have been on display at the Masterworks galleries, the response from the community has been particularly encouraging-especially from family members who have commented that they are heartened by the fact that they are able to see a positive side to their incarcerated relatives.

            In closing, I am reminded of Marshall McCluhan's quote "Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn't know the first thing about either." This thought resonates with me constantly- being neither an academic nor an elitist, I am aware of the fact that we have to draw people into the museum in the first instance. How do we do this? First of all there must be an element that is relevant and recognizable-"Oh, I used to live there" or "I've got a' match- me- if-you- can' in my garden just like that" are great ways to draw visitors to look at paintings in the first instance- then they will stand back and appreciate the painting as a creative experience.  It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. If this is the case, then as the village elders it is our charge and responsibility to create the structure that creates the very best and competitive learning experience and environment.