Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Central home of the artist

The rolling hills of Chickland in the Central Range look towards the Northern Range, here shrouded in rain cloud
The pink house in Chickland has been standing for 175 years. It has grown more beautiful with careful renovations and regular maintenance by its most recent owners.  Built of "a single cedar tree" by a Chinese shopkeeper who did business on the Chickland Caparo main road, the original house on stilts was a classic of the style that British colonials were spawning everywhere in the tropics. The high ceiling beneath the gabled roof of "galvanize" (galvanised corrugated metal) created a well-ventilated living space.
The pink house in Chickland

Windows and doors open all around. We would do well to be inspired by this simplicity today: the open centre, windows on all sides, demerara, jalousie, fretwork. As the eyes are windows to the soul, so are windows the eyes of a house. Every window in this house opens to a view - picture windows all!

Demerara windows on the west

Every window frames a picture!

Two decades after it was built, the house and its estate Les Lilas (the lilacs were probably a reference to the petrea trees that were once plentiful in the area) were acquired by Frenchman Charles Melizan in the expansion of Santa Isabel, producing cocoa and coffee. A hundred years later, the house and a few acres including the pottery set up by Charles Melizan's grandson were acquired by Rory and Bunty O'Connor for their Ajoupa Pottery.

Show room, dining room, living: the public space downstairs

The door as window, framed by Bunty's art!

Art in the garden pond

As the business at Ajoupa flourished, so did the house. The ground floor was enclosed. The showroom doubled as dining and living room with a convenient kitchen and home office. Within 20 years, the factory was closed. "Who can make a pot to compete with the Chinese?" Bunty lamented the tide of globalization, and turned her attention to making art. Mosaics are installed in homes. Explorations in raku proceed with classes of willing students. Sculptural and pictorial ceramics emerge. This led to the construction of the new studio built on the same principles that evolved the pink house: an open space, steeply gabled galvanize roof, views all around, a work in progress.


Upstairs back porch

Private space: gallery of her own and  friends' art

The pink house in Chickland sits amid graceful gardens where towering natives and fruits define the spaces for clumps of heliconia, bursts of colour everywhere. It is a heritage house for the rolling hills of the Central range, for the age already past, where life in the tropics was lived largely outdoors with wind and rain and big trees. The pink house and Ajoupa Gardens are both backdrop and creation of the artist in her native land, a lovely legacy for all Trinidadians.

Sculpture in the sun

Earth goddess

Earth pot

Mother Earth

The new studio is not the first building designed and built by Rory O'Connor

Trees are silent loyal companions in the garden of the pink house

No comments:

Post a Comment