Samantha Gosling

Artist Statement: Haile Maryam is one of the most fascinating Bermudians I have ever met. His striking appearance and imposing stature represents a side of Bermuda I find really inspiring. I have a passion for painting characters who make a strong statement by their presence. Their appearance conveys their personalities and the life they live. I enjoy painting them in front of surroundings that further tell their story. I have known Haile since I was a young girl. He was friends with my father and would come over frequently. Back then he was a young man and his dreadlocks were much shorter. I remember him vividly, colorful clothing, a man still living in 1970’s Bermuda. Years later at the age of 23, I ran into him at Chewstick. He was there to read poetry. I wasn’t surprised to see that his dreadlocks had grown to the ground, they were so long that they dragged along the floor behind him. His once black head of hair had begun to fade to grey and white and he had a white beard that had started to form its own dreadlocks. He is now aided by a long staff which only adds to his interesting persona. Haile’s appearance tells a story about his life, his dreadlocks acting as a timeline. I asked him if he would allow me to paint him which he happily agreed to. I painted him in front of Scratchies Barber Shop, an iconic landmark in the back of town; a shop where he used to have his hair cut. I chose Scratchies because it represents Bermudian architecture which I find comfort in; it is a true representation of Bermuda’s roots. Like Haile, this painting has a charismatic presence. It captures peoples’ attention as soon as they enter the room. I believe it to be an authentic representation of Bermuda and our history.

Bio: Bermudian Portrait Artist. BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Lives and works as a contemporary painter in NYC.

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