Bermudian artist Ronnie Chameau — well known locally for her banana leaf dolls — will be showing a different side to her talent in an upcoming art show at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in Devonshire.
Mrs. Chameau will be exhibiting some of her paintings and sketches in an art show called 'In the Garden' alongside fibre work from Gale Bellew and rustic furniture by Ronnie Lopes.
"Everyone affiliates me with my banana leaf dolls, but I have painted since I was knee high," said Mrs. Chameau. "I have some of my father's lodge books and mother's cookbooks and they are full of little people and houses I drew when I was five."
Mrs. Chameau said growing up, she wasn't particularly academic.
"My mind was creative," she said. "I am left handed, and the teacher would take a ruler and crack my knuckles to make me use my right hand."
Mrs. Chameau said she hated school, and left at the age of 16.
She went to work for Fort St. Catherine's, but still kept drawing.
"I would draw landscapes from the fort," she said.
Today she sketches, and paints in water colours.
"For the show 'In the Garden', I have tried to do old Bermuda cottages or old ruins," she said. "I also have three French scenes in there."
Pet shop owner Ronnie Lopes will also be showing a different side of himself the rustic side.
Mr. Lopes got into rustic furniture making almost by accident after hurricane Fabian struck Bermuda a few years ago.
"I went on a skiing trip to Colorado and stayed in a log cabin where all the furniture was rustic," said Mr. Lopes. "A few years later we had hurricane Fabian. I was picking up my son from school and he noticed some men cutting a fallen tree.
"One of the limbs looked like the shape of a chair leg we had seen in Colorado."
So Mr. Lopes asked the workmen for some wood from the tree. They took it home and constructed a little table from it.
"We put our halloween pumpkin on it," he said.
But when trick-or-treaters came calling, they were more interested in the rustic table than in the pumpkin.
One lady asked Mr. Lopes to make her something similar, and then another person and another.
Later someone suggested he exhibit his work at the Annual Exhibition.
"I received a lot of positive comments," he said.
Bolstered by the praise, he kept going. He collected books about rustic furniture and bought a DVD about it. He also chatted to professional carpenters about their techniques and tools.
"I want it clear that I am not a carpenter," he said. "I am a rustic furniture maker. I believe anyone can be a rustic."
Today he often sells his furniture in his pet shop, Pet Care on the South Shore Road in Devonshire, or works on commission.
He constructs his furniture out of cedar, casuarina, spicewood and baygrape.
"The spice wood is the hardest out of all the woods that I use," he said. "It is the one that lasts the longest.
"It is great for outdoors. If someone wanted a bench, especially near the ocean, I would recommend it. That is what Bermuda fishermen used to make fishpots — spicewood."
He said his first chair was made from Mexican pepper wood.
"That was useless," he said. "That chair is all rotten now.
"The more you are into it, the more critical you are of your work and yourself. You are constantly finding ways to do it better."
To obtain wood he became friendly with various landscapers and road crews. People also often bring him wood.
"I don't go out chopping a tree to make a chair," he said. "That would defeat the purpose.
The third artist in the show, Gale Bellew, became interested in fibre art while raising llamas in Maine. She makes scarves, purses and other items from different fabrics and fibres.
"As a result of having llamas I had all this wonderful fibre," said Mrs. Bellew.
For twenty years she helped organise the Fryeburg Fair Fiber Center in Maine, the state's largest fibre festival.
She eventually sold her 29 llamas and moved to Bermuda with her husband.
"One of the challenges of raising llamas was making money from it," Mrs. Bellew said emphatically. "It was really a labour of love. I didn't sell them because I moved to Bermuda. I sold them because it was time."
Some of her pieces in the show demonstrate a felting process called 'nuno' which combines silk and felt.
"Nuno is the Japanese word for fabric," said Mrs. Bellew. "Nuno was invented by Polly Sterling, an American living in Australia. She had been doing wool felt for years, but Australia was too hot for wool."
Nuno uses warm water, soap and light agitation.
"When you do that on the silk the felt fibres start to migrate through the back," said Mrs. Bellew.
During nuno the felting shrinks a bit, making part of the silk shrink also. This creates "ruching" or gathering.
She also uses an Asian technique for dyeing her fabrics and textiles.
"My work is very influenced by Asian culture," she said. "I studied Asian ink painting."
In the show, she will include a piece done collaboratively with Charman Prize winner Sabrina Powell.
'In the Garden' opens March 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Elliot Gallery at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation.
A number of dishes will also be featured including red bean soup by Mr. Lopes' aunt, Mary Fox and kale soup by Natalie Sousa.
The show ends on March 27. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays or by appointment by telephoning 542-9000.