Ashantilly is a wonderful mixture of history, architecture, the arts and coastal ecology. For me, as an artist, it has been a joyous and fascinating place in which to explore and and celebrate this Historic Site.
With my friend, artist Marjett Schille, I have spent many hours working at Ashantilly. The fascinating and unplanned result of our exhibition here is that we have dovetailed in our art. By this, I mean that Marjett has been looking at the “larger picture” with paintings of Ashantilly’s landscapes, trees, buildings. Meanwhile, I have focused closer in on details of these same trees, tabby walls and other delights. Bark from different trees, oyster-embedded tabby, the historic marble threshold to the entrance of the house, feathers that floated down from the trees, lichen and grape vines. They are all smaller parts of the whole, at Ashantilly, but of course, everywhere. Even the collages that I created with historic paper that previous owner, Bill Haynes, used when he printed at The Ashantilly Press, allowed me to link Bill’s love of the environment with my own.
My using, for the most part, metalpoint in the work I created has also been a subtle link to Bill Haynes and his heritage. Bill loved so many aspects of the beauty we inherit from previous generations, and I once had a wonderful conversation with him about his love of medieval manuscripts, illuminations and their exquisite art. Metalpoint was born in medieval monasteries, with the use of lead to line pages and draw the outlines of illuminations. By the early Renaissance, lead was giving way to the more ductile and expressive metal, silver, for use in all forms of drawing. Leonard da Vinci, Raphael, Dürer and others have left us amazing silverpoints that are as fresh as if they were drawn today. Metalpoint was then gradually forgotten as graphite and other more forgiving media came into use. Working in silver, gold, and copper requires a specially prepared drawing surface, erasure is almost impossible and lines require a slow, steady, careful build-up of fine marks to achieve darker tones.
After 19th century artists learned about the forgotten drawing medium of silverpoint when the 14th century manuscripts of Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro dell’Arte were found in Italian archives, it has slowly gained adherents who love its subtle, shimmering lines. The antithesis to today’s hyped technicolour world, silverpoint is a medium that slowly evolves as the silver tarnishes to a soft golden brown, giving it a life and freshness that is unusual in drawing media.
In the same way that metalpoint drawings combine a long heritage and a fresh, contemporary voice, so too does Ashantilly remind us that history enriches and allows us all to celebrate many aspects of life in a very special place.
Cedar Point, McIntosh County
As it happened, it was a surprising turnout - really heart warming as people drove hundreds of miles to come and see me and my work, from all corners of the coastal area and inland too. People, in some cases, whom I have not seen for ages and ages, but who wanted to see what I was doing by way of art and to see me. Between Marjett's friends and mine, we had about 80+ people and it was a celebration of art, culture and friendship in this rather gracious house. Below are some shots of the show.