By Heather Wood

Link to original article: https://www.royalgazette.com/arts-entertainment/lifestyle/article/20240311/talented-family-comes-together-for-bsoa-show/

Nearly 40 years after the artist William Kemble’s death, his family has come together for The Descendants.

The show is a tribute to the landscape painter who moved to Bermuda from the US at the age of 55 and became actively involved in the arts scene.

For a good part of the 1960s Mr Kemble sat on the board of the Bermuda Society of Arts; ultimately he became president.

Fitting then that The Descendants opened in Studio A and B at the BSoA on March 1.

On show are about 50 pieces created by his daughter, Katherine Zuill, and his granddaughters who live in the US: Elise Church and Whitney and Katy Robbins.

For Katherine, 80, the exhibit is also a farewell to the place she’s called home since she married Bermudian Cummings Zuill in 1982. The couple will leave for Massachusetts this summer.

As with The Descendants, family is the draw.

“I’ve been living here for 42 years with my husband, but I’ve been coming here since I was seven. Now, I just want to be back in the Boston area. I want to go home and be closer to my family,” she said.

It was with her father in mind that she reached out to her daughter Elise and her two nieces.

“I thought it would be fun to have a show in honour of daddy and I adore my nieces and my daughter. We’re all artists and I thought it would be a fun thing to do together,” she said.

“The theme was The Descendants so that meant we were all artists descended from [my] father, [their] grandfather.

“We all do things totally differently and that’s what’s fun – that the show has totally different art coming from each of us.”

Katherine spent 50 years as an interior decorator and then became passionate about painting.

Her work “pays close attention to her Bermudian surroundings alongside her mixed media explorations using found materials”.

She has held numerous exhibits here and in the Boston area.

Elise has experience in sculpture, drawing, collage and needlepoint, but for the past decade has used photographs from the sixties and seventies to create her work which has shown in the US, Bermuda and Europe.

Whitney’s printmaking, drawing, painting, photography and sculpture has been on display at galleries in Massachusetts and outside the US.

Among their art will be work from their Brown Series, which they started in 2019 as they questioned whether they were biased against the colour.

Katy, a registered nurse, only began painting a year ago.

Like Elise, her art focuses on found photographs but her interest is in “the narratives” captured through the physical relationships of the people in the pictures.

“Though they live far from one another, all of the artists have worked in the same physical spaces together – even if in the form of colouring on the floor while Grandpa Kemble painted, or sketching in his company as a child,” reads the BSoA description.

“The three granddaughters/cousins … have visited the Zuill household in Bermuda for artist retreats and have shared dining room table space in Massachusetts on hot summer days – usually with Zuill – literally swapping source material.”

The body of work now on display is likened to “a vision of home”. The pieces weren’t created specifically for the show.

“I took special care to select work of mine that was particularly inspired by Bermuda colours,” said Elise, who only realised a few years ago the impact the island had on her palette.

“I’ve been working on oil paintings for the last year and a half. I wanted to choose a body of that work that responded to the palette of Bermuda.”

As Whitney hung the show “the transitions and connections between the artists” became more obvious.

“There’s a piece of Elise’s and a piece of Katy’s that, as they transition, they both have sort of a fluorescent pink undercoating,” they said.

Similarly, they liked the “tingly brown colours” of a collage created by Katherine which seemed to mesh with their own Brown Series.

“Making those connections was really fun for me,” they said.

Added Katy: “I think it’s so appropriate that it’s based in Bermuda because the idea of painting and spending time on one’s art even if you do have another full-time job was so modelled by our grandfather that was here.”

The BSoA was “packed” on opening night; Katherine was “very pleased with all the questions” that were asked about the family’s work.

“Maybe I’ll come back and do it again someday,” she said.

The show was already in progress when the Zuills decided they would leave Bermuda for the US.

“So it felt completely appropriate and wonderful to sort of celebrate all that Bermuda gave to us as artists from childhood where we are in our lives now – in our fifties and at 80,” Elise said.

“My mom has the most and the largest because she could drive her paintings there. We had to fit everything in a suitcase. Many of mine are only 2in by 3in or 5in by 6in. They’re very small.”

The Descendants is on exhibit at the Bermuda Society of Arts until March 23. For more information: bsoa.bm