Monday, 8 July 2013

CHAPTERS OF HER STORY: Gilou Bauer reflects and looks ahead to life after the Mutual Gallery

LAST LOOK: The curator examines one of the gallery's pieces. Below, with avid collector William 'Bill' Clarke.

In addition to serving as the (former) curator of the Mutual Gallery, Gilou Bauer acts as art coordinator of the Sangster International Airport in St. James, a post she's held since 2010. "I just came back from Montego Bay, actually," she says. "I go there from time to time. There are some really great displays in the airport, but I do all of the work from home in Kingston." 

The rewarding job of coordinating the airport's exhibits will get a great deal more of her attention, owing to the closure of the Mutual Gallery, which she ran for the last 15 years. "My apartment is going to be a little bit more crowded," she tells me, laughing. But Gilou Bauer's Jamaican sojourn began long, long before that, the 1970s to be precise, when she landed on our shores eager to soak up the tropical splendour and set roots down like a true island girl. 

She hails originally from France, by way of Germany (her military attache father was stationed there) and landed in Jamaica at the dawn of the seventies. "When I came to Jamaica, I went to art school and did some work with Valerie Bloomfield, which is something that I found very difficult to do," reflects Bauer, now in her 60s. "But you find that with art, as with anything else, you have to be determined and work continuously, produce continuously. Anything you do, you have to do it with commitment." 
As she prepares to embark on life post-Mutual Gallery, Bauer, unsurprisingly, waxes nostalgic. "Fifteen years is really a long time, especially when you're involved in something that became a part of yourself. So to no longer do it is like making a transition," she observes. "There's that feeling that something is lost in a way."  

I ask her what fond memory she'll cherish above all. "I think the interaction with the artists, and to see and be mesmerized by the type of outstanding work they produce," she says, "to bring out something new and something different but still be themselves."

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