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Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022 - July 31 to August 28, 2022 |11 August 2022

Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022 - July 31 to August 28, 2022

Barry Gerturde next to his painting displayed in the biennale (Photo: Kurtrine Albert)

‘My art addresses issues of our daily lives’ – Barry Gertude


He is an art teacher and lecturer, a well known musician but he also has time to devote to his art. Barry Gertrude, the winner of the Personal Artistic Development prize in the Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art, 2022, was eager to speak to our journalist about the journey of his life and his art and artistic skills.


Seychelles NATION: Mr Gertrude tell us about yourself and what type of artist you are.

Barry Gertrude:I am someone who does fine arts, specialises in drawing and painting but I also do some sculptures. I even play music and sing as well. I am also a lecturer at the Seychelles Institute of Art and Design (SIAD). In general, I can say that at the moment, I do more contemporary arts. This means that my art deals with issues in our daily lives.


Seychelles NATION: What do you try to convey to your audience through your art works?

Barry Gertrude: It changes, because it all depends on what is touching me during a certain period of time and I try to point this out. However in my type of art, I try to find a way to represent my identity. I try to make art that represents a bit of African, a bit of European and Asian to reflect us as Seychellois. I want for when people look at my art, it reflects our island. It reflects a Seychellois.


Seychelles NATION: As an artist, what do you think is the most important value to have?

Barry Gertrude:You need to be someone who is attentive, someone who is able to assimilate information and transform this information in a visual way through which you can pass a message and educate your audience, or even just entertain them.


Seychelles NATION: Tell us about your work in the biennale.

Barry Gertrude:Well, the biennale was going to be done two years ago but it was postponed to now because of Covid-19. It had a theme - ‘Lost and Found’. There is a reason why everything happens and we have to take advantage. We have to look at what benefits we can get when something happens. For me, you could say it evolved. My work is called ‘Little Things’, but when you go in my installation it is not small. It is big. This is a concept to make people reflect. People are tied to big things, and perhaps Covid-19 made us reflect on this. I know it made me reflect on this. Everyone was running behind big dreams and they forgot the small simple things like sharing. This is something that we began losing.  Covid-19 made us sit down and take a break.


Seychelles NATION:  What was the inspiration behind this particular piece of your work?

Barry Gertrude:I am sending out a message to people. Listen to the right songs. We are not nurtured by only bread and water but we are nurtured by words as well. Words help us to get out of different situations. When you do not have anything to do, it makes you think of the little things. Like how to share and appreciate the things that people do for us. There are many little things that people do for us, which we take for granted. The bigger picture is composed of these little things. If we appreciate these things then our lives will be happier and more complete. So I made a place you can go to take a break and relax when you are feeling tired or under pressure.


Seychelles NATION: How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you and the work you produce?

Barry Gertrude:It affected me in the sense that I wanted my work to go out on the market, be seen and feasted on by people’s eyes. I wanted to meet with international artists. I wanted my name to be in the biennale catalogue of course. It has to do with popularity and pride. An artist needs to create a name for him or herself to be known. Covid-19 made me late. However, at the same time, perhaps I would not have received a prize if it had not made me late. It gave me time to reflect and re-adjust. Now it is the right time, I have opened sort of a little disco where people can enter and dance if they feel like it. It brings back their joy of living.


Seychelles NATION: Do you have a message for the young artists who have viewed your art work?

Barry Gertrude:I want them to understand that art is something that is not stagnant. It moves and changes, and shares ideas through communication. For young artists, I would tell them that those who are older are going and have prepared them to take their places. They have to follow the trend of direction that art is going in. If they do not, perhaps we might regress and lose track of where we are. They should try to understand and keep our artistic health in shape.


Seychelles NATION: What are your thoughts on the other works you have seen in the biennale?

Barry Gertrude:It is not only about what you see. It is also about understanding these works. These works are very conceptual so there are ideas behind them. Everyone’s work has a part that is strong. Its visual is very attractive and its message is strong. It is a matter of me and the exposure I received. It opens up my mind and gives me new inspiration. The biennale is not only about the artworks themselves, but about knowing these artists and their stories. It is an experience that I have acquired during the whole process.


Sylia Ah-Time


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