France: Finding artistic inspiration

Prolific Caymanian artist, Bendel Hydes, has been finding artistic inspiration in the medieval village of Vouvant, Western France.

The artist, who is usually found busy at work in his New York studio, was invited to the quaint rural idle by gallery owners and long-standing friends David and Helen Genty.

Travelling as an artistic ambassador from Cayman, Bendel has been meeting with local artists to exchange ideas and visiting various exhibitions since his arrival in September.

However, the primary purpose of his visit is to advise on the setting up of an artists’ resident programme, which, he said, hopes will be in full swing by 2008.

The programme will be designed for any international artists, painters and sculptors as well as serving as a cultural exchange for local Cayman artists.

‘We both saw Bendel’s work in a private collection when were visiting the Cayman Islands four years ago,’ Ms Genty said. ‘We loved his style and got in contact with Bendel through the National Gallery.

‘As Bendel is an international artist we thought he would be able to help advise us on setting up a cultural exchange programme for artists from Cayman, so invited him to stay with us. It seemed like a good start.’

In between arranging the logistics of the programme, Bendel has been finding time to paint a series of small paintings. The paintings, many which have a maritime theme, will be exhibited at Galerie de la Tour in May next year.

‘I feel very inspired here,’ Bendel said. ‘It’s been a fantastic change. It’s very beautiful and peaceful.’

The artist, who explained he is often ‘inspired by sensory experiences, coupled to a geography of the mind’, said that, as a result of his stay, his artwork has taken on a different hue, often adding touches of colours inspired by Vouvant’s stunning scenery.

‘My approach to colour has changed. My work is about seeing the big picture; it’s about encapsulating the feeling and character of place. I have been using a lot more earth tones, whereas in New York I painted in a much lighter hue.’

Bendel studied at Clark University in Massachusettes, US, and at Centerbury College of Art and Liverpool College of Art, UK. The artist has participated in several solo and international group exhibitions, as well as winning various grants and awards. His installation piece, Starpath, can be viewed at the National Gallery’s exhibition, au courant, which runs until 25 January. To contact the artist email [email protected].

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