Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, Senator Owen Darrell, recently attended the opening of the new Alternative Voices: A Perspective on Contemporary Art from the Azores art exhibition at the National Museum of Bermuda in Dockyard on Thursday (June 6).

The exhibition, sponsored by Clarien, is part of the NMB’s commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the arrival of Portuguese immigrants in Bermuda.

Sen Darrell commended “everyone who has made this wonderful event possible”.

The “rich display of Bermudian and Portuguese culture at the Alternative Voices exhibition” was held “at the historic Commissioner’s House, National Museum of Bermuda in Dockyard”.

Miinister Darrell pictured with Azorean contemporary artist, Susana Aleixo Lopes

“I want to especially thank featured Azorean artists Susana Aleixo Lopes, Filipe Franco, and Leonor Almeida Pereira, who co-curated the exhibition with Lisa Howie, for your remarkable work,” he said.

“Art is essential to preserving our shared history and encourages unity in our cultural connections.

“The island’s cultural fabric is deeply connected with the people of the Azores, Madeira, Portugal, and Cape Verde, and its origins can be traced back to the arrival of the ship Golden Rule in 1849,” he added.

“This extraordinary voyage marked the beginning of the first immigrants of Portuguese origin to reside in Bermuda, whose familial footprints have remained intact today.”

On that note, the Minister said: “It is important to acknowledge the lives and cultural practices of Azorean descendants that inspired these wonderful pieces of art and sculptures.

“Our histories are inextricably linked as the first Portuguese settlers in Bermuda were responsible for introducing highly skilled labour techniques in farming and cattle raising, which significantly shaped Bermuda’s economic landscape.

“The lucrative potato, celery, and onion crops seeded a new source of income for farmers allowing them to live well, raise families, and be a major component of our import and export economy.

“Bermudians of Portuguese descent make up a significant portion of our population.

“Many have become naturalized citizens, purchased homes, trained as doctors, lawyers, architects, politicians, artists, filmmakers, accountants, and educators.

“Most importantly, positive changemakers for the island’s growth and prosperity. This connection has endured, connecting Bermudians and the wider Portuguese diaspora internationally.”

In closing, Sen Darrell said he was honoured “to be a part of this special cultural exchange and intertwined histories”.

He also thanked the National Museum of Bermuda, by highlighting “the value all museums offer to create community spaces of learning about our interconnected heritage”.

“Their award-winning programmes, including the latest display, will continue to enlighten and enrich us all. Enjoy the exhibit!”