MARIGOT–Many art lovers enjoyed Roland Richardson’s exhibition opening in Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Valentine’s Day.
Some 55 paintings, a mixture of recent and older work, were on display in the corridors, the vivid colours brightening up the walls for the viewing pleasure of visitors, patients and hospital staff.
“Art is intended to nourish and uplift the spirit. That, I think, is the purpose of art, and what better situation to do it than in a hospital,” said Roland. “And we arrived at this also because of the circumstances of the island, with the normal places we would exhibit in being damaged as well as our own gallery.
“There was a tremendous need to have something uplifting for the spirit. We had thought about doing this for years but never got around to doing it. But the timing was right now.
“All these people – doctors, surgeons, nurses, administrative staff – are under intense pressure all the time, so they might not get a chance to go to an art gallery. But here the art is in their place of work, which makes them stop and comment. By bringing the art to the people, they appreciate it, but bringing them to the art, like in the gallery, they are a little more uncomfortable.”
He said the clean walls and good lighting in the corridors of the hospital enhanced the exhibition. “We’ve since had several requests from people in various departments who want to hang my art on their walls, so yes, it has been very successful. And it takes away that heaviness that is normally felt in a place like this.”
The Hospital exhibition follows a donation of Richardson’s artwork to Sloane Kettering Cancer Institute in New York.
“We do want to do something similar on the Dutch side and not just by exhibiting. We’re hoping to give something to institutions like we did in New York,” he said.
Sales of his artwork are helping to finance repairs to the gallery on Rue de la République.
“Because it’s a historical building, we want repairs to be of the proper order because the intention is to preserve the longevity of the building. It’s coming along. The roof has been repaired and shutters are back in place. Some electricity still needs to be done. Fortunately, there’s not much activity from the tourism perspective now, so we don’t mind if the work is protracted.”
Richardson said he hoped the French side can come to an awareness of the importance of what the gallery represents, and not because it is his art gallery.
“It’s an art gallery of an international calibre, well preserved, dating from the 17, 18 and 1900s, surrounding a courtyard that is a treasure suspended in time. In view of the losses from the hurricanes, preserving something like this becomes even more of a collective responsibility than just a private undertaking.”