Bermuda, pretty as a picture
Watercolor artist enjoys living and working on balmy, British-accented island
Charlotte Observer, USA, Feb. 2nd 2003
Carole Holding, 57, is a professional painter - of watercolors - in Bermuda. Her home is in Warwick, one of the parishes of the British dependency off the N.C. coast.
Q. What's it like where you live?
Bermuda is fairly small -- a mile wide and 21 miles long, shaped into a "C." There's a dockyard -- originally a royal naval dockyard -- at the western end, but not a lot of houses. At the east end is St. George, the first capital. Between them is Hamilton, the city.
Not many people live in the city; they just work there, in the offices and banks. Everybody lives in parishes dotted around the island.
I live on Harbour Road, which is on Hamilton Harbour about 10 minutes from the city.
Q. Where do you paint?
On location around the island. I also have a studio at home where I do flower painting. I sell to locals and tourists. The main market is overseas tourists -- and they're mostly Americans.
I enjoy painting my garden and the vistas from my home. I really enjoy painting the historical buildings of the island, because the architecture is very unique.
All the houses were built of stone in the old days, when they used to quarry Bermuda stone. Now they use concrete blocks.
The houses are white-roofed and have unique features, such as stepped chimneys and stepped roofs. This is to collect rainwater. The very old buildings had straight roofs, but early settlers found stepped roofs slowed the flow of rainwater and made it easier to collect. Rain goes from the roof along a channel, then into a pipe and down into a tank. We pump the rainwater into our houses. Each house collects its own water.
Houses in Bermuda also have push-out blinds, for use during hurricane season. And there are "eyebrow" shapes they put above windows to prevent rain coming in.
What makes the houses so attractive are their pastel colors. Most are painted shades of pink and peach. These colors predominate, though there's occasionally some in terra cotta and a few that are painted blues. It makes the island look a bit like sugar candy.
The houses are accented with dark green, dark blue or black shutters. It's attractive. And window ledges and other accents may be painted white.
Q. When is tourist season?
April to November. This day in January is the coldest on record: 57 and sunny. It can get windy, and the water looks slightly choppy today.
Bermuda was once the resort island where Americans would winter. Slowly, over years, people shifted to vacationing here in summer months. Now the summer months are when Bermuda has more visitors. It's also when we get cruise liners -- they don't come in winter, maybe because of the weather between the United States and Bermuda.
The Bermuda Festival is on right now. It started Jan. 13 and finishes at the end of February. It is a quite diverse performing arts festival. Its purpose originally was to attract tourists during our slow season, and has become very popular with locals. The 24th of May is also a celebration. It is a public holiday called Bermuda Day. It marks the first day of the year most Bermudans go swimming.
Q. What's the local food like?
A very typical traditional dish is hoppin' John. You use dried black-eyed peas and rice, and cook them in an oven with onions in a way so they don't become soggy. They're served with roasted chicken.
And there's cassava pie, made with cassava or farina. It's an elaborate dish. Cassava comes from a root you have to grate before it is cooked. This pie takes a lot of ingredients, including eggs. Some make it with pork or chicken. It ends up being a slightly sweet cake that almost has the texture of what you'd call grits. It is baked in trays and cut into squares to serve. You freeze the rest and bring it out at holidays. Everyone eats this with their turkeys at Christmas.