Roland and Laura Richardson (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT–Invited guests celebrated the reopening of artist Roland Richardson’s art gallery on Rue de la République Friday evening, which also marked its 21st anniversary as a cultural landmark.
The gallery’s rebirth post-Hurricane Irma was marked with a debut of “a flotilla on turquoise,” a collection of regatta paintings. Appropriately there was also a display of entries from the children’s Heineken Regatta art competition.
The historic building, first opened as an art gallery in 1998, was extensively damaged in the hurricanes of 2017. But thanks to at least a year-and-a-half of meticulous and painstaking restoration work, the gallery has returned to its former splendour with all rooms in the two-level building back in their original state. Some art work was lost or damaged to varying degrees in the hurricane, and for months their home was turned into a hospital studio for repairs to paintings
“We did go through a period of questioning as to the future of the gallery as prospects didn’t look too good for the island after the hurricanes, but we feel this effort is beyond just our effort. It is something that is really important to the community, to Marigot and to the whole island,” Roland explained. “Abandoning wasn’t an option but to continue was a question for a while.”
Added Laura; “It was very discouraging at the time, but I feel we were destined to do this, as we were at the beginning, to continue the process, restore this historical landmark, take it a step at a time, day-by-day, and here we are. I can hardly believe it, we are so blessed. The gallery is better now than it was before Irma.”
Roland and Laura revealed it is their intention to transform the gallery into a national museum for future generations.
“We want to raise awareness of the value of what little we have left and that is the architecture of which most has been damaged recently. If we lose that, we lose all trace of our past. So, this effort is to maintain that trace and encourage others to place value on what they have.”
If Irma was the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, one has to marvel at the integrity of a building that dates back to the 1700s and would have withstood many previous hurricanes.
“The barracks and the beautiful stone masonry were built in the 1750s before the French Revolution, the front building in 1847 and the third building next door where I was born dates back to the 1940s,” Roland explained. “We have three different centuries here of very fine architecture. The open space of court yard and garden has always been there. King Louis XVI commissioned the military to build the fort and they lived here in the barracks with their horses, and that was before the house that we are in now was built.”
In a change of scheduling the art gallery at 6, Rue de la République will be open to the public only on Thursdays. All other days are by appointment only. For appointments, call (1-721) 553-7524 or email [email protected]
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85918-roland-richardson-s-art-gallery-reopens