Race issues: From Manuel Palacio’s Black Apartheid. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Race issues: From Manuel Palacio’s Black Apartheid. *Photo by Sarah Lagan

FRIDAY, AUGUST 5: Controversial artist Manuel Palacio tonight faced the critics at his controversial Black Apartheid exhibition.

He told the audience: "It's basically an expression of my frustration at what I perceive as the government not getting artists working in this country.

"If you don't use the resources you have to hand, that's why things are going as bad as they are.

"If this government was a white government, black people would be up in arms saying that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing.

"It's because we're so racist, I guess... we use race as an excuse for problems we're not fixing.”

Mr Palacio was speaking during his exhibition at Hamilton's City Hall - which features works depicting former Premier Dr Ewart Brown as 1980s movie mobster Scarface, played by Al Pacino, and senior members of the ruling PLP with fair hair and blue eyes.

He told the audience he had chosen to portray Dr Brown as Scarface because he was intelligent, potentially a great leader but "a scary guy" who had not moved on from confrontation between black people and white people.

Mr Palacio said: "Why is this guy not bringing his genius to this society?

“If he could exorcise these demons he has, he would be a much better leader for this society and that's where this piece comes from.”

And he questioned the reverence that Dr EF Gordon was held in in Bermuda, despite his colourful private life and the fathering of children which he failed to support financially.

Around 70 people attended the meeting at the Bermuda Society of Arts gallery in City Hall.

Veteran campaigner and writer Dr Eva Hodgson told Mr Palacio that he had failed to appreciate the kind of psychological pressure brought to bear on the black community in Bermuda, which continued long after official emancipation.

She said: "They had the economic power - black people could lose their jobs and they did.

“Dr Gordon represented a lot of people when others would have been too scared to represent them.

"There was a policy of oppression and keeping black people in a certain condition.

“Slavery is not the issue which affects us today, it's the policy the white structure brought in at the moment of emancipation.

“It was then the determination was made that black people would not have equal representation.

“Even today, it's still very obvious the impact white racist policy has on this society."

Mr Palacio said afterwards: "It was great. That's what art is supposed to do - get people involved.

“We're a society which keeps everything quiet and walks about angry.

"It's been positive all the way."