David Bridgeman (b. 1959)

My work is strongly autobiographical, containing elements from early childhood and teenage years, sometimes linked to a relationship of a life on a Caribbean island that was only ever intended to last two years. Now as a British Caymanian, my works have strong emotional ties to the landscape, both past and present and contain images and symbols that bridge the gap between the Caribbean and my country of birth. I work in a variety of media to convey these feelings. My works take the form of painting, drawing, printmaking, 3D and installation.

I have previously been concerned with how I could record memory of both positive and negative experiences. I did this by using the marks and scars found in landscapes which show evidence of human involvement and existence. I like maps and the codes used for identifying the land, sea and air. I like the shapes and structure of these landscapes and the powerful emotions they evoke.

Now I find myself drawn to a more personal story; one involving a family history which I have never understood; a mystical family background full of secrets and regrets. There is a reason why I position myself constantly with the landscape, seemingly trying hard to make it my own and many questions arise as result. My work is driven by a desire to find what is missing; unblocking some things to discover others. I find the whole creative process takes me to different places of discovery every time I start a new piece of work.

Pegasus – my imaginary flying machine – is my vehicle which aids this process. It has been created from objects of my past using materials I was familiar with as a child.

I spent a lot of time immersed in the landscape as a child and teenager. Pegasus is my link to the past and enables me to connect with landscapes from an emotional as well as physical standpoint. I can zoom into the minutest detail of a flower or observe an entire landscape spanning decades.

I have great memories of many creative activities in primary school. As a shy boy lacking in confidence I took comfort in the success of making things; paintings with easels and non-spill pots of primary colour paints; a model of Stonehenge after a school trip; a large Loch Ness monster from chicken wire and papier-mache; balsa wood projects and woodcarving; all this together with the recognition I received for art projects. I carried this passion into my middle school years where I was influenced strongly by my art teacher and artist, John Hopwood. I continued to be inspired by visits to his studio and his exhibitions in and around Oxford. My teenage years in a comprehensive school were difficult but soothed by continued success in art. This time my interest was enhanced with the help of art teacher and artist Mike Chalwin. Visits to the London galleries were regular. At an exhibition of Frank Stella's work in the 1970’s, my teacher bought me the catalogue for the show. This small act was some kind of affirmation for me that I was perhaps on the right track; that maybe this was something I was good at and felt truly passionate about. I maybe harboured all these feelings for a number of years but didn't act on them. Art classes as a child and teenager were a form of escapism that I wouldn’t return to until much later in life.

I was born in Oxford, England in 1959 and grew up in the market town of Abingdon, on the outskirts of West Oxford. My last years at a difficult comprehensive school were chaotic and I left not knowing what I wanted to do. I drifted from Business Studies, to Environmental Science and teaching, enjoying more the freedom of being away from home and feeling independent. It was teaching in the Caribbean that rekindled my interest and desire to make art again, together with the fact that I met a number of artists there in 1987 when I arrived to take up a government teaching post.

Without the background of an art degree I have taken many workshops over the years in areas in which I have a particular interest. For painting I have studied with artists such as Bendel Hydes, James Isaiah Boodhoo, Karl Jerry Craig and Lys Hansen; John Salvest for mixed media and installations and Alfons Bytautas for printmaking.

In 2005 I left teaching to begin working as an artist full time. Career highlights to date include selection for part of a large traveling exhibition, Carib Art, culminating in a showing at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. I was also shortlisted for the Royal Commonwealth Exhibition in London, juried by artists such as Sonya Lawson RA, John Hoyland RA and Anthony Whishaw RA. More recently I have produced and curated my own solo exhibition at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

I have formed an art collective, C4, with three other artists. The group thrives on the sharing of ideas, collaboration and mutual support. It also shares a common desire to give voice to our personal and unique expressions.

I work from my studio – Studio 3 - in George Town, Grand Cayman.

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