Artist Graham Foster working on his mural. *File photo
Artist Graham Foster working on his mural. *File photo
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Creative and intellectual thought was abuzz at this weekend’s TEDxBermuda conference. Professors, lawyers, scientists and activists mixed with artists, musicians and poets in the first conference of its kind on the island. Ted is a non-profit organization that began in 1984 dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. Ted stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and experts in each field make presentations and answer questions from a live audience which are then broadcast for free on the Internet. Organizer John Narraway told us that he planned to organize a second conference in October and hinted that they could become a regular fixture on the island’s community calendar. Sarah Lagan and Amanda Dale attended the conference and reported on the numerous speakers.

Artist and sculptor Graham Foster has earned his place as a household name in Bermuda since painting his epic mural at Dockyard depicting our 400-year history.

He told the audience how he had originally estimated that the painting would take him one year but that it ultimately occupied him for for 7,000 hours over three and a half years.

He said it was “the best gig you can get as an artist”. Mr Foster described the pitfalls and challenges and showed a picture of himself before the project began — “a youthful artist full of vim and vigour” — and a picture post-painting of him looking rather more bedraggled. He talked through the various stages of his mammoth task from research to installation. He showed a photograph of books on Bermuda that stretched from floor to ceiling and explained how he decided on the artistic style, settling with a touch of surrealism.

He talked through the various historical events he chose to include such as the 1977 riots, emancipation and the founding of Dockyard. Mr Foster said he avoided the inclusion of any politicians as it would “open up a can of worms”.

He also talked about some of the detail, such as the red and white hot air balloon that Teddy Tucker sent his wife up in to spot shipwrecks. One day the balloon overheated while she was up in the air so Teddy and his team went for dinner to allow enough time for it to cool down.

Foster said his biggest hope was “to reignite an interest in the history of Bermuda in the youth” through his masterpiece.

TEDxBermuda 2011