HISTORIC BLUFFTON: PAINTINGS FROM THE ARCHIVES
BELFAIR MANSION, ROSE HILL PLANTATION HOUSE,
and HISTORIC HEYWARD HOUSE
There is much history in the Lowcountry of South Carolina if one looks for it. When I met Iva Welton, long-time Hilton Head Island resident, former Director of Rose Hill Plantation, and an historian of the Lowcountry, she asked if I would be interested in the black and white photographs from her private archives of Belfair mansion and Rose Hill plantation house. The photos provided me an intimate and alluring glimpse of private, forgotten and lost places and became a reference for my paintings. I have chosen views and moments that attracted me in some way—play of light and shadow, color, an unusual point of view, the time of day. All document a time past and scenes that no longer exist.
Belfair Mansion was built in 1928 but by the 1980s it had been vacant for many years and was just a ghostly reminder of the past—a mysterious great house with a fatal staircase and structural issues. In contrast, Rose Hill plantation house–a Gothic Revival masterpiece begun in 1858–is a survivor. Despite lying unfinished for nearly 90 years from the start of the Civil War, it was completed in the 1940s and by 1983 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by Iva Welton. Despite a devastating fire in 1987, it has once again been carefully restored by its latest owners and is a much-visited architectural gem.
For Belfair, Rose Hill and surroundings, I wanted to be true to architectural detail while allowing my loose painting style to conjure the ephemeral magnificence, loneliness and mystery of the place to create a mood and implied narrative that resonate with the viewer.