Photos & Results: 2015 Plein Air Art Festival

November 24, 2015

The Bermuda Plein Air Festival Committee announced the winners of this year’s competition, which saw 58 local and international artists paint various scenes across the island during the week-long event.

The exhibition and prize giving were held on Saturday, November 21st, opened by Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling, with welcome comments given by Bill Hanbury, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, lead sponsor for this event.

Mr Hanbury said “The Plein Air Festival captured the essence of Bermuda. It has combined our extraordinary natural land and seascape beauty with the talents of artist both from on and off the island.

“The event committee is to be commended for executing a terrific week-long program that placed our island paradise in the best of possible light.

“Also, we are grateful to our overseas visitors who not only brought their impressive artistic talents to Bermuda, but also contributed to our tourism economy.

“These types of events, which speak to authentic and original tourism experiences, are exactly what the BTA is interested in nurturing as we invest in a brighter tourism future for Bermuda.”


Presenting the prizes were Steve Lynton, representing Old Holland and Silver Brush; Michael Harding, founder of Michael Harding Oil Paints; Charles Gosling, Mayor of Hamilton, for the Hamilton “Quick Art” Winner; and Bill Hanbury for the “Best in Show” prize.

“All our artists and the public who attended, enjoyed the one day exhibition event from 4 to 8pm at the Bermuda Society of Arts Gallery, and had the artists’ framed work flying off the displays! A total of 233 framed pieces of art were submitted for hanging,” the organisers said.

“Sales were very brisk and the gallery commission will be split between four local art galleries [ Bermuda Art Centre in Dockyard, Bermuda National Gallery, Masterworks and the Bermuda Society of Arts] to enhance their ongoing art programmes throughout Bermuda.

“The judges had a big job to do! The committee would like to thank Michael Harding, CEO of Michael Harding Art Materials Ltd, Mr. Franklin Hill Perrel a Hofstra University graduate, painter and Trustee of the Hecksher Museum in Huntington and the Bermuda National Gallery and Lyn Donovan, Owner/Director of Coastal Maine Art Workshops, in Rockland, Maine for both their time and full support of our Plein Air Festival and exhibition.

The Winners:

1. Best in Show Winner: Mr. Christopher Marson. $5,000 cash and the Plein Air Magazine certificates for 1/4 page ad and feature in Plein Air, presented by Mr. Bill Hanbury, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the title sponsor

2. Winner of the “Quick Art” in the City of Hamilton: Mr. William “Bill” Rogers from Nova Scotia, Canada, Winner of Michael Harding $1,000 gift certificate and Silver Brush set of brushes, presented by Michael Harding and the Mayor of Hamilton, Mr. Charles Gosling

3. Best Oil Painting: Mrs. Sheilagh Head. The winning gifts were presented by Steve Lynton, representing Old Holland Paints included a deluxe gift box with a full set of oil paints set in a mahogany case, two oil primed canvases and brush sets by Silver Brush.

4. Best Watercolour Prize: Poppy Balser from Nova Scotia, Canada who was presented with a 24 colour set of Old Holland watercolours and case, with brushes from Silver Brush, and a $150 voucher from Guerrilla Painter – all presented by Steve Lynton, on behalf of Old Holland

5. Winner of the Best Pastel/ Acrylic Painting Prize: Mary O’Connor from New York. She won an Old Holland Acrylic set, Pan Pastel set, brushes from Silver Brush and a $150 Guerrilla Painter gift certificate, presented by Steven Lynton on behalf of Old Holland Paints.

6. Exhibition Judges Choice Award: Charles Knights: He was presented with a $500 gift certificate of Michael Harding Paints, from sponsor and judge, Michael Harding.

Event organizer Rhona Emmerson said, “Our sponsors for this first event were tremendous with the international support from Plein Air Magazine, as well as Old Holland paints, Silver Brush, Guerrilla Painter and Michael Harding Hand Made Paints, and Pan Pastels, ensuring our prizes were world class” .

“Our local support came from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, DNA Art Shoppe, Frameworks, Butterfield & Vallis, Goslings, Mail Boxes, ByWays Tours and AAC Saatchi & Saatchi doing all of the graphics and website development, Nancy Smythe and Frank Ginocchio for sponsoring all our painters’ aprons and several very generous personal anonymous donations made this event possible.

“In addition, the beautiful Rosedon Hotel provided a door prize draw for a weekend stay for two, which was won by Karyn & Michael Harding. They were thrilled and are already making plans to return.

“The guest artists left Bermuda on Sunday and Monday Nov 22nd and 23rd, having made many new friends and firm commitments to return to Bermuda. Images and photos of the week can be seen on our Facebook page Bermuda Plein Air  or on”

A few comments from some of the artists :

Mary O’Connor, New York:

An amazing week. So happy to be a part of this wonderful event.

Poppy Balser, Nova Scotia:

We went out to Castle Point to paint. Everywhere I turned it looked like a scene from a travel brochure.

Sylvia Lussing May , Bermuda:

It was such a great week! So wonderful to meet so many artists.

Joseph Sweeney, Philadelphia:

Great day painting at the fort. [Fort Scaur] Thank you Rhona and the Bermuda crew.

Tsering Dorjee, California:

Colour of Bermuda, amazing. And sweet of Bermuda Plein Air community. Keep in touch everybody and see you all soon next year. Till then every day paint .

Eli Cedrone, Boston:

Another day in paradise!

Nancy Smythe, Florida: ·

The Bermuda Botanical Garden was our venue for the Plein Air Festival today. Masterworks Gallery hosted our lunch and Tom Butterfield gave a tour of the fabulous gallery that now exhibits the Charman Exhibition. I decided to paint “Match Me If You Can” and despite three rain showers was very happy with the piece.

Louisa Calder, London & Bermuda:

Such an amazing experience and honoured and admired by all those taking part, we owe a huge thank you to you and the team – and to whatever God was smiling on Bermuda for that incredible week of sunshine!

Barbara Jones, Toronto, Canada:

I am home in sunny [ but only 42 so far today] Mass. and am thinking of the wonderful week and I want to say a huge thanks! I’ll hope to see you another time to paint.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Spectator says:

    Congratulations, Rhona, to you and your support team for a great event.

  2. Vaughan Evans says:

    Well done Rhona, Margaret & your crew.
    A huge amount of work that you freely gave & I am so pleased for you that it was such a great success.

  3. Spectacular event! Plein Air in Bermuda is for everyone! We look forward to seeing and sponsoring you all again in two years! Karyn & Michael xxx

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