Antonius Roberts

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Copyright 2018 Bahamian Project
Copyright 2018 Duke Wells
Antonius Roberts by Duke Wells

Guiding the art community through his philosophies of conservation, transformation, and preservation.

Perfectly on time and with the agreed-upon props in hand, Antonius Roberts arrived comfortably dressed in white linen at the location we had chosen for this Bahamian Project photograph.

The Bahamian Project is an initiative to photographically document people of The Bahamas through legacy portraits… that is to say, portraits that reveal something about the story of the subject.

Probably best known for his art, Antonius is a sculptor and painter – a master artist whose works are collected locally and internationally. It would have been easy to photograph him in front of his artwork, but we didn’t feel as though that adequately answered the question of who Antonius Roberts is, or what he has contributed to society.

His more important role, perhaps serendipitously, has been that of luminary and visionary, teacher and leader. He has been at the root of many of the most successful and significant cultural initiatives and projects – some of which have inspired future generations, others have preserved and restored our cultural heritage, and all which have strengthened our community. This is the concept we sought to convey. Antonius, as the shepherd, guiding the art community, led by his philosophies of conservation, transformation, and preservation.

About Antonius Roberts

Antonius Roberts is a legend in Bahamian art. As one of The Bahamas’ most outstanding Artists, Sculptors and Open Space Designers, he has been the impetus behind many prominent art initiatives in The Bahamas.

His passion for preserving and documenting Bahamian/African heritage has had an indelible effect on environmental conservation. His use of re-cycled organic materials has been incorporated into his art long before “green” had fully infiltrated the general consciousness.

Antonius has said that he is inspired by each piece of wood, marble or organic material that comes into his hands and he waits for the material to tell him what to do.

Born in 1958 in Nassau, Antonius graduated in 1981 from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a BFA in Painting.

As a Curator, he has played a significant role in the public and private domain.

He also played a leading role in the restoration of the Villa Doyle and its conversion into The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

He was the founding Curator of The Central Bank Art Gallery and remained in that position for most of the gallery’s existence, until 2017. Prior to the creation of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, the Central Bank’s gallery was The Bahamas’ preeminent exhibition space.

As the former coordinator of FINCO Summer Art Workshops, and as a teacher and lecturer at Government High School and The College of The Bahamas (now the University of The Bahamas), Roberts has mentored a generation of young Bahamian artists.

His paintings and his sculptures have been featured throughout The Bahamas and the world and are in private collections around the globe.

He conceived of and coordinated the first Junior Junkanoo competition and parade in 1983 and founded The Bahamian Art Gallery in 1991 which facilitated the reintroduction of master artists Kendal Hanna and others.

In 2009, he created a design for seven acres of grounds at Centreville House and, after receiving government approval, directed and managed the project which included many special features – landscaping, a pond, fountain, labyrinth, amphitheatre seating, benches, a Lucayan tree house and other art installations – making it the first downtown park in Nassau and an integral part of the revitalisation programme.

As a sculptor, he is widely known for his Sacred Spaces. The first Sacred Space project is at the historic Clifton Heritage site – a spiritually-inspired, historically significant work, transforming dead but rooted trees into elegant sculptures of sacred women. The concept has since been expanded into several additional installations around The Bahamas.

The Sacred Women sculptures are the focal point of his Sacred Space installation at the Clifton Heritage National Park, which was recently selected as one of the top ten attractions in the Caribbean in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice for 2019. Clifton Heritage National Park was the only nominee representing The Bahamas.

His ethos of connecting humanity’s spiritual and emotional nature, and nature itself, and his desire to record and honour Bahamian heritage, are inherent in his paintings, sculpture, and creative pedagogy.

In 2012, he opened Hillside House, another project in restoration, preservation of history, and urban renewal. Hillside House introduced a quiet, artistic, community space into the chaotic buzz of downtown Nassau, and it thrives to this day as a creative oasis.

Antonius has recently (in 2019) returned to the University of The Bahamas (UB) as the first Art Curator and Artist-in-Residence.

He lives and works in The Bahamas, and over the years, has collected numerous prestigious awards.