Barbados Team takes Chattel House exhibit to the US
The close historic ties between Barbados and Charleston and the similarities in architecture, food, dialect and social structure are well known to both Barbadian and American historians and are now being explored even further through the efforts of, among others, Barbadians Professor Henry Fraser, Dr. Karl Watson and Mrs. Rhoda Green.
Mrs. Green is a Barbadian living in Charleston for many years and now Honorary Consul for Barbados there. So the idea of taking a photographic exhibition of the black and white platinum palladium prints from the recent book Barbados Chattel Houses, an exhibition conceived by Mrs. Green, Ms. Penny Hynam, former Director of the National Trust and the photographer Mr. Bob Kiss during the recent Barbados Diaspora conference, seemed a natural fit.
The stunning two-storey City Gallery of Charleston with Curator Anne Quattlebaum, situated in a prime location on the Charleston waterfront, was the host of the exhibition entitled “The Spirit of Place: Traditions of the Agrarian Home in Barbados and the Low Country“. It featured twenty Barbados chattel house prints by Kiss, along with photographs of local indigenous houses by South Carolina photographers Julia Cart, Robert Yellin and Terry James.
The opening on September 7th brought together resident Barbadians, Charleston society and cultural patrons. The artists were introduced by Scott Watson, the Director of the City Office of Cultural Affairs and Mrs. Green. The centerpiece on the main floor was a model of a chattel house built by Robert Green and the students at the American College of the Building Arts.
The next day Prof. Fraser and Ms. Hynam toured the early 18th century Jail of Charleston, now the home of the College of the Building Arts, with Ms. Kerri Forrest, Director of Institutional Advancement. Later they were guests on a panel discussion on slave and indigenous architecture of both countries at the historic Gage Hall, hosted by Kerri Forrest and the College, along with Joe McGill of the National Trust and David Payne, a tutor at the College.
The team took every opportunity to tour the magnificent historic sites, especially the ones connected to the history of Barbados, such as Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Middleton Plantation, Drayton Hall and the fabled single houses so beautifully preserved in the historic District. One unexpected pleasure was the meeting, arranged by Ms Green, with the affable Mayor of the City of Goose Creek, Mayor Michael Heitzler, who regaled the team with his vast knowledge of the area and took them on a personal tour of the historic sites.
The culmination of the visit was a well received lecture by Prof. Fraser on the Architecture of Barbados, held for about 80 attendees at the Founders Hall at Charles Towne Landing , the original site of the settlement of Charleston by the Goose Creek Men from Barbados.
All of the events were filmed by the tireless camera work of Aubrey Padmore, a Barbadian filmmaker living in New York City, who took the long drive down to Charleston for the events.
The Gallery exhibition continues during the MOJA Festival of the Arts in Charleston, until October 6th. The whole series of events was made possible in Barbados by the Ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, the Barbados Tourism Authority, Shaka Rodney of the Fast Frame Gallery, Innotech Ltd and Toute Bagai Publishers ( publishers of the chattel house book) and by numerous entities in South Carolina, including the Friends of Charles Towne Landing, the Charleston City Office of Cultural Affairs, the American College of the Building Arts and the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor.