Generous: From left, Bermuda National Gallery director Lisa Howie, Chairman Gary Phillips OBE and artist Robert Barritt pictured when the artist donated two original paintings to the gallery. *Photo supplied
Generous: From left, Bermuda National Gallery director Lisa Howie, Chairman Gary Phillips OBE and artist Robert Barritt pictured when the artist donated two original paintings to the gallery. *Photo supplied

Bermudian artist Robert Barritt’s iconic painting of the theatre boycott can now take pride of place in any living room in Bermuda.

Thanks to generous funding from the university the artist graduated from in 1950, posters of the artwork are now on sale at the Bermuda National Gallery and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

Barritt painted the picture at a time when segregation on the island was rife and he used his artistic talents to challenge that position.

Another of his paintings has also been made into a poster, Two Weeks Before Christmas and Government House, 1960, displaying an image of a group of impoverished children picking over discarded fruit outside Parliament.

Barritt graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1950 from Mount Allison University and was given its mural decoration award in 1949 and 1950. He helped to fund the establishment of university’s Robert Owens Art Gallery and the university has now returned the favour by funding the printing and design of his posters.

National Gallery director Lisa Howie told the Bermuda Sun: “Bobby Barritt’s work is important in positioning Bermuda in the journey towards racial equality. As an artist he took on the politic of the day.

“Theatre Boycott is important in helping to tell the story of the development of the visual arts in Bermuda — it marks a turning point in that time period.

“Also, in terms of a narrative, it tells an important story of artists commenting on politics and being a part of not just the aesthetic fabric but playing a role in our social progress. He was a really good friend of (black Bermudian artist) Charles Lloyd Tucker — these two being friends at a time when Bermuda was segregated is and was an important relationship that symbolises what Bermuda could be back then and today.

“The second painting is the children in front of Parliament House — children are picking away at the oranges that have been discarded in the dump by Parliament and the children in the picture look potentially impoverished so he is dealing with this class/race issue. Artists today are still often shying away from the politic and Bobby Barritt was really keen on taking a position.”

Barritt gave the original paintings to the Bermuda National Gallery last year and they will eventually go on display there.

Howie added: “It is Black History Month Bobby has been wonderful in giving the art organizations these posters and giving exposure to these beautiful art works.” n

The posters are soon expected to be made available in other art galleries around the island.
They retail at $20 separately and $30 for both.
Theatre Boycott, Upstairs Right, is 20” by 24”;
Two Weeks Before Christmas and
Government House is 30” by 40”. The original paintings were oil on board.