More than three decades after John Lennon‘s untimely death, a Bermuda museum remembers him with a stylized sculpture. Writer Nancy Lazarus takes a closer look.
The picturesque island of Bermuda is a long way and a far cry from the hectic urban settings of Liverpool, England where John Lennon grew up, and from New York City, where his life ended on December 8, 1980. The British musician and artist spent several months in Bermuda during his last trip abroad, and the island served as his muse. Bermuda pays special tribute with “Double Fantasy,” a sculpture dedicated last year in Lennon’s honor.
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art commissioned local sculptor Graham Foster to create the six-foot Cor-Ten steel structure. The work shows a stylized double-sided profile of Lennon and his “granny” glasses with his Rickenbacker guitar, doves of peace, and the double fantasy freesia flower. At approximately 4,000 pounds, it’s a weighty piece, and sits on a raised flowerbed in a courtyard near the museum’s entrance. The sculpture is located in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, on the island’s south shore in Paget parish.
Lennon sailed to Bermuda from Newport, Rhode Island on a yacht in the summer of 1980 for an extended vacation. After a five-year hiatus from creating music, he began writing again during his time on the island. Within six weeks of his arrival, he completed 25 songs. During his walks in the botanical gardens he found the double fantasy freesia flower. That inspired Lennon to write the words and lyrics that later became the Double Fantasy album. He and wife Yoko Ono contributed songs and released the album together in November 1980.
“Ever since we put the sculpture in front of the museum, it has made for a warm welcome, and visitors are quite surprised to know of John Lennon’s time here,” noted Tom Butterfield, founder and creative director at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
“Visitors continually make comments about the contemplative atmosphere. It remains a hidden treasure, which preserves its tranquility,” added Elise Outerbridge, the museum’s collections manager.
That was the impression of this visitor during an excursion there on Labor Day. My arrival wasn’t by sailboat, but via a winding bus ride and a scenic promenade past the gardens. There in the middle of the courtyard stood “Double Fantasy,” across from an English-style phone booth painted dark green. With no other visitors in sight, the ambience was serene.
Yoko Ono expressed her feelings about the sculpture in a video message posted on the Double Fantasy Bermuda website: “I’m pleased that John is being honored in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens. It’s where he discovered the double fantasy freesia flower which became the title of his last album. I know that he loved and was immensely inspired by Bermuda. His spirit is now part of the beautiful Botanical Gardens, where I hope peace and love will grow.”
Writer Nancy Lazarus is a frequent contributor to UnBeige. Learn about her here.