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Calling All Bahamian Artists: Let's Build A National Collection
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Posted by:Apr 10th 2003, 01:56:11 pm
Fig Tree News TeamApril 10, 2003
Art Gallery Seeks Works For First National Show

A primary mission of this new institution,” says Dr. Gail Saunders, chairman of the National Art Gallery Committee, “is to build a national collection for The Bahamas.

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas announces that it is calling for works in preparation for an Inaugural National Exhibition, one of three shows that will be featured at the opening of the West and West Hill Street gallery June 26.

“A primary mission of this new institution,” says Dr. Gail Saunders, chairman of the National Art Gallery Committee, “is to build a national collection for The Bahamas. Though this will be carried out in various ways, it is hoped that the Inaugural National Exhibition will be an important means to assess the length and breadth of Bahamian art. To this end, the gallery seeks to display the best Bahamian visual art, and hopes that this will include the work of persons previously unknown to the Bahamian public.”

All Bahamian artists living at home and abroad as well as artists who are residents of The Bahamas are invited to enter works produced between 1973 and 2003, says Dr. Saunders. If an artist wishes to enter a work of art now held by a private collector, the artist should request the collector to place the work on loan for the exhibition. Art is being accepted in a wide range of media, including painting, works on paper, photography, sculpture, assemblage, installation, mixed media, fibre arts and ceramics. The works should be delivered for judging to The National Art Gallery by Friday, May 09, 2003.

“Because of the short time leading up to the opening and the curatorial intricacies of exhibition work,” Dr. Saunders emphasizes, “absolutely no late entries will be accepted, and slides and/or photographs will not be considered in lieu of actual work. This year´s judging will be conducted by The National Art Gallery´s Acquisition Committee.”

The gallery recommends that all interested artists carefully review the rules and guidelines for the exhibition published in newspapers, and encourages every Bahamian artist to become a part of the event. Rules, guidelines and entry forms are available via e-mail [send a message to] or fax [242 328 5800]. Hard copies can be obtained from the gallery's administrative office, West and West Hill Streets.

Villa Doyle was built in the 1860s by Chief Justice Sir William Doyle. It was later bought and enlarged by Mr. Walter K. Moore, who subsequently became President of the Legislative Council. More recent owners have been the trustees of Trinity Methodist Church, Nancy Oakes and Mr. Keith Aranha, from whom the government bought the property in 1995. The government decided later that year to restore the historic building to house the National Art Gallery.
Early in 1996, the prime minister and Cabinet appointed the National Art Gallery Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Saunders and Mr. Vincent D´Aguilar (who later resigned) and composed of men and women known for their dedication to art and cultural preservation, to oversee the restoration of Villa Doyle, spearhead fund-raising activities for the gallery and guide its establishment.

Besides Dr. Saunders, members of the panel include Mr. Cleophas Adderley, Mr. Ian Fair, Mr. Cedric Saunders, Ms. Grace Turner, Mrs. Kim Outten Stubbs, the Rev. Dr. Hervis Bain Jr., Mr. Harold Munnings, Ms. Simonetta Raymond Barker, Mrs. Camille Barnett, Ms. Margaret Guillaume, Ms. Francine Horton, Mrs. Clarice Granger, Ms. Vernice Walkine and Mr. Julian Francis. Mr. Anthony Jervis of Anthony Jervis Architects Ltd. was named architect for the restoration of Villa Doyle.

Three consultants funded by the Inter-American Development Bank advised the committee on various aspects of the restoration. Since January, 2001, the National Art Gallery Committee has been advised on curatorial aspects of establishing the gallery by consultant curator Dr. Petrine Archer-Straw.
She is curating the first of The Collectors Series of exhibitions, entitled “One man´s visions” and composed of a selection of works from Mr. D´Aguilar´s collection.
Seeking to identify qualified Bahamians for the gallery, the committee has located two highly qualified Bahamian art historians, Ms. Erica James and Dr. Krista Thompson, says Dr. Saunders, who is also Director of Archives.
Ms. James is assisting the committee as a visiting curator, and will organize and curate the Inaugural National Exhibition. Dr. Thompson is curating a photographic exhibition, “Bahamian visions photographs, 1870-1930.”

Architectural drawings for the restoration of the building were prepared and put to bid in 1998. Because of an unsatisfactory first tender exercise, however, a second was required. An 18-month, $3.9-million governmental contract was awarded to Hunt Construction Company in February, 2000.
The National Art Gallery Committee raised about $400,000, some of which was used to pay engineering and architectural consultants, Dr. Saunders says. More than $150,000 donated is to be used to purchase the art collection.

The National Art Gallery Committee, says Dr. Saunders, “is grateful to all who contributed in cash or kind, especially the Inter-American Development Bank, Civilizations, S. G. Hambros, Finance Corporation of The Bahamas and Mees Pierson.”

A Bill to establish the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas has been read twice in the House of Assembly, and is expected to be passed soon. The measure would empower the gallery to acquire works of art, sets out the functions of the gallery, and establishes a board to be responsible for its management, general direction and control.

By Bahamas Information Services

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