Recreating A Sacred Space
Photo by Roland Rose
In 2005, two Bahamian artists collaborated on a poignant and stunning art installation on the historical grounds at Clifton Heritage Park. Sacred Space, with carved figures by Antonius Roberts and metal bells by Tyrone Ferguson, taps into deep historical and ancestral energies that visitors to the park have enjoyed for almost a decade.
Thank to a new collaboration between the two, however, a piece of Sacred Space has now been created in downtown Nassau. Last week, the Antonius Roberts Hillside House and Gallery held an unveiling of their new gate, designed by Tyrone Ferguson in the spirit of the pair’s earlier collaboration.
“Antonius took me to Hillside House one day way before the renovation started, and he said ‘Tyrone, I’m going to need your presence here’,” says Ferguson.
“It comes out of the relationship that Antonius and I have—anytime he’s doing something he thinks is significant he wants to have my involvement in it,” he continues. “When Antonius and I connect and we’re doing work like that, we don’t worry about cost—we just want the best expressions of our hearts, and that’s what you see in it, that’s what it is.”
Indeed the gate with its silhouettes made in the shape of the same slender figures carved by Antonius out of casuarina trunks gazing over the sea at Clifton—as well as Ferguson’s bells in the trees of Hillside house—invoke the same breathtaking energy of Sacred Space that invite viewers to reflect on and give thanks to the resilience of their ancestry.
Yet the gate not only serves the purpose of capturing that space—it serves to preserve it, says Ferguson.
“We knew that work wouldn’t last—termites would eat the wood out and the metalwork would be eroded by the saltwater—in fact on my last visit, the metalwork has almost been entirely reclaimed by the sea,” he says.
“We had conversations about how good it would be to preserve that space. As we talked at Hillside House that day, we felt we had an opportunity to bring that sacred space experience to the people.”
“In my sketches I saw his work and my work coming together from that sacred space in Clifton and being celebrated here in this very public place,” he continues. “I sent him pictures as it progressed and he was excited about it and I was excited myself, because the gate represents that spiritual journey of what was and what is and of possibility.”
Already visitors to the space and passersby have responded positively to the piece, says Ferguson. Indeed the gate creates a fitting introduction to the experience one feels when they visit the renovated Hillside House, inviting guests in to take part in moments of deep contemplation.
“I’ve always seen art as a vehicle that can bring people together in a transformative kind of way. Art has a way of creating spaces for introspection and for reflection,” says Ferguson.
“I would want people to leave feeling they are participating in a deep experience, that they connect with the energy. I think if work comes from the right place, it does that, touches on beauty and soul.”
Article By Sonia Farmer
The Nassau Guardian
Arts & Culture
Published: Saturday, March 31, 2012