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Charlestown Art Gallery- A Force For Good

The Charlestown Gallery, Nevis, now open for Christmas and the New Year, has been a growing force for good since its inception in August 2013. Over the past two years the gallery which according to its founder, Deborah Tyrell, has an informal mandate ‘to feature artists of and inspired by Nevis”, has attracted local artists that no one was aware of to showcase their art so that artists in the early stages of their careers and well-established artists can now showcase their work side by side. A very modest entrance fee for each show and no commission taken for sales is providing local artists and those with small or no income the opportunity and encouragement to pursue art as a vocation or hobby. Artist members of the gallery see it as their remit to work hard to forge links with arts educators and government officials to foster a greater appreciation of art by bringing arts education into the school system where unfortunately art is not a taught subject. Space is provided in the gallery also to display the childrens’ artwork and to foster interest in a variety of art medium. The gallery also reaches out to other organizations like Operation Future which is run by Her Majesty’s Prison to provide ehabilitation to prisoners through music and art. The goal of the programme is to provide inmates with a positive activity, to replace the pistol with a brush and learn painting and drawing skills, to assist them with successful integration into society upon their release from prison. Through the Operation’s link with the Charlestown Gallery, incarcerated prisoners can exhibit and sell their work to assist in funding similar youth programmes in Nevis. A further initiative of the Gallery is the collaboration with local hotels and businesses to make public space for art promotion. The Four Seasons Resort for the first time is to showcase selected local artists’ work on its walls. Presently it is modifying its 120 foot long fine dining restaurant, The Coral Grill, which seats 150 each evening and is used for special events in the daytime, to open a semi- permanent exhibition in time for its Christmas season. “The interest expressed by the Four Seasons will help to validate how important it is to make home- grown art a lasting memory that visitors can take home and which residents and businesses can proudly feature in their homes or places of work,”explains Canadian artist, Rosemary Smith. A dedicated group of a dozen volunteers assist in the running of the Gallery which limits opening all year-round as many of the volunteers, do not live in Nevis full- time. It is hoped that funding from Government and business sources will allow the gallery to be open on a more regular basis. Tourism is a year-round business in Nevis with visitors coming from all over the world to experience the beauty and friendliness of this very special island. It would be fair to say that the Charlestown Gallery has a future that promises to be a viable and rewarding venue for artists as well as an attractive tourist destination of which Nevis can be proud. For more information contact: Deborah Tyrell nevisislandliving@gmail.com Selected Artist information: For Deborah the Gallery enables her to exhibit her larger fabric collages. She started sewing as a child , learning from her mother in Trinidad. Later she remembers buying fabric remnants to make her party dresses. When she moved to Nevis in 1984, she too passed her sewing skills to her son, who earned pocket money hemming trousers for his school mates. After her training in Toronto in visual merchandising, design and photography Deborah was well set up to start a gift shop in Charlestown to meet the insatiable appetite for hand crafted goods including handbags, table linen, oven mitts and clothing. The applique on her products began with simple designs and then grew into complicated motifs which had their own life. It was then that she made a decision to let the art go where it wanted to. In Toronto she said she was limited by subject matter and colour, but the vibrancy of life of Nevis has opened up new inspiration. She continues making commodities for her business, Island Living, employing a seamstress artist to execute the motif designs on her goods, These she sells in the Gallery and hotels on the island. For Rosemary, born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Nevis has been my exclusive home away from home for over 20 years, however because of the positive response to her naïve style of acrylic painting and her encouraging sales at the Art Gallery she has made a decision to permanently move to Nevis in Spring 2015. As an emerging artist, she explains she values how important it is to be stimulated, mentored and encouraged to create. According to another new artist member of the gallery Claire Yearwood, who has lived in Nevis for over thirty years, selling in a mixed group is easier and since the artist group started she has been painting and experimenting more. “I absorb colour and light in a way that I would not necessarily have done had I continued living in Northern Ireland and find water mixable oils give me the texture which suits my way of painting from nature, ‘she explains. Stoneworker Marvin Chapman has represented St Kitts and Nevis in the 2008 China Symposium where he was commissioned to make a stone sculpture which now stands in Chagchun, he continues to grind, chip and polish volcanic rock of Nevis to create fish, birds and turtles which he sells from the Gallery. Val acharias has been an integral part of the artist group and believes, “art connects race, defies language barriers and is immortal”. Newcomer, Nicola Scott-Taylor makes her colourful collages exclusively in Nevis, recycling coloured plastic. “Nevis is the brightest splash in the Caribbean, my plastic collages are a perfect medium to translate its beauty,’she explains. Her subject matter is of places and events of local interest featuring Golden Rock, Oualie Beach, Windsurfing, Snorkeling and Horseracing.

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