One of the world’s finest private collections of black men and women in western art will again be opened to the public of Barbados.
Barbados Museum and Historical Society has arranged an open day at Colleton House, St. Peter for Sunday, March 17.
This will enable the public to view portraits and sculptures of black men and women by famous European artists of the last 400 years.
In addition, the Frank Rickwood Collection of indigenous art will be on display.
This includes 157 pieces from Africa and Papua New Guinea, described by Caribbean academic Lennox Honychurch as “remarkable by any standard” and highly praised by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
Visitors will also be able to inspect Colleton House whose roots go back to 1649 when Sir John Colleton fled from England after the execution of King Charles I during the Civil War.
Sir John became an important sugar planter on the island, acquiring 700 acres and 65 slaves.
When Charles II was restored to the throne, he was rewarded for his loyalty by being appointed first lord proprietor of a group of Barbadians given North and South Carolina and all the land to the Pacific Ocean.
Colleton’s sons became governors of the Carolinas and it was from Colleton House that the fateful decision was made to begin the importation of Africans as slaves to the Carolinas with the legal system to control them.
Colleton House was acquired and restored by Australian geologist Frank Rickwood in 1989. It was his home until his death in 2009 where he surrounded himself with wonderful examples of renaissance Italian and European art, art glass and period furniture and rugs.
Colleton House and its art collections were opened for the first time last year by the National Trust and attracted 1,100 people.
Since then, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society has been working to acquire the collections and the property to develop a regional educational facility.
The Open Day run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the admission fee will be $30.
At 4:30 p.m., there will be a lecture titled “Presence and Place: Images of Africans in 18th Century British Print Culture” by Dr. Temi Odumosu, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow for EUROTAST at University of Copenhagen. Admission to the lecture is by patrons’ Open Day tickets.
The talk will explore the rich world of images and ideas that emerged through printed images and texts published primarily in London. It will investigate the fluid ways in which race and aesthetics converged in London’s buoyant visual culture.
The discussion seeks to reconstruct a more detailed sense of presence and place for people of African descent during the colonial period.
Colleton House is located about one kilometre past Six Men’s Fishing Village in St Peter.