Antonius Roberts Collaborates With Abaco Youth
Schooner Bay Artist Antonius Roberts Collaborates With Local Youth In Bench-Making Venture
I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with young Abaco artist, Blake Russell, to build a bench that was auctioned off at the 2012 Schooner Bay SpringFest. Blake and I were connected through Every Child Counts, an important non-profit organization assisting special- needs children in Abaco, and I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented young individual.
Proceeds from the sale of Blake’s bench went to an Art Scholarship Fund for Blake, who will be traveling to Italy this summer to attend art school. The Endowment for the Arts, of which I am a trustee, has already agreed to cover the cost of airfare for Blake’s travel abroad.
The bench was built using reclaimed casuarina wood from the Bahamar project on Cable Beach in Nassau. It took three days to make and was assembled with stainless steel lag screws. Blake used acrylic paints to create a beautiful marine scene inspired by the reefs and blue holes of Abaco.
This project was an offshoot of another initiative known as the National Bench Programme, where I was commissioned by Bahamar to build 20 benches for trails and paths throughout their resort property. I’ve expanded the scope of the program to include 12 young students who I mentor in the construction of the benches.
The students are exposed to the concept of public art installments, and taught a skillset that could help them one day earn a living as artisans, carpenters or furniture makers.
One of my greatest pleasures is discovering and nurturing some of the young artistic talent in the country. Blake and the other students I have the privilege of working with are a testament to the tremendous potential of young Bahamians, and offer inspiration and hope for the future of The Arts in our islands!
By Antonius Roberts
Schooner Bay Artist-In-Residence