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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dolphin House, Bimini Art Extraordinaire

Dolphin House!  Bimini, Bahamas.
Sand.  Tile.  Marbles.   Rusted chain.  Shells.  Glass fisherman floats.  Coins.  Cracked mirrors.  Coral.  License plates.  Booze bottles.  20 years of various and sundry bits of flotsam and jetsom were collected and transformed into something…  magical!

Welcome to Dolphin House,Bimini, Bahamas.
"These conch shells are very
strong," Ashley declares.
"Do you notice how I've used
them in the foundation?"

Thanks to the artistic genius of Ashley Saunders, Dolphin House is a veritable explosion of creativity. It’s a wonderworld where life imitates art imitates life, joyfully.
While not exactly the stairway
to heaven,  Ashley's stairway
is probably the most intriguing
hodgepodge I've ever escalated.

Starfish, mermaids, mahi mahi, octopi, sailfish, palm trees, lionfish, seahorses, flying fish, and of course dolphins, inhabit the walls, stairs, façade and halls…. The house nearly pulsates with energy. This orchestra of visual delight takes the form of a vibrant mosaic that flows throughout Dolphin House, inside and out, comprised of Ashley’s vast array of found materials. 
"Wow!"  Wayne's Dad Phil and his wife Gunnel are initially
overwhelmed  by Dolphin House's interior.

Artist, poet laureate, and historian, Ashley Saunders graciously invites passerby to tour his place.  His welcoming smile and open arms radiate warmth, but the real magic begins as the stories unforld when Ashley walks you though his creation, seamlessly interweaving tales of his family’s multigenerational history, where he found his materials, the murals he created from them, how he constructed the building…. Conch (pronounced “konk”) – crete (“concrete”) might be a legitimate name for these common Bahamian shells, given their structural strength; Ashley used them extensively for both construction and decoration.
Gunnel's quilter-creativity wheels are turning while Ashley
explains one of his many mosaic murals.

Is it a home? A guest house?  A museum? Yes, all that and more.

Sadly, our tour was cut short due to an impending storm (click here to read about that).  I would dearly love to return to Dolphin House, to re-take, complete and ideally videotape the tour, and stay overnight in one of Ashley’s two rooms for rent.  Considering that from September until nearly June, I did not spend a single night off the boat, even when we were on the hard for several days (click here to read about that), that’s saying a lot.  Of all the isles we visited, from St. Lucia up to Florida, Saba’s small ecolodge is the only other place that tempted me to spend a night ashore (click here and here and here to read about Saba).
This mystical octopus is one of several created
for Ashley by one of his artist-students.

Ashley is continuing to work on Dolphin House, on his own and with the help of friends, family, students and other artists.  In fact, Ashley is still looking for a few more state’s license places, Alaska and Oregon among them, I believe.  If you’d like to contact him, his email is SaundersA62@yahoo.com, phone (242) 347-3201, or click here to link to Ashley’s Dolphin House Facebook page.  My bet is he’s love to hear from you.  Better yet, go there.

Surely this serenade to the sea
would be incomplete without
a mermaid shrine.  Voilá!
Form and function flow together perfectly.  I'd happily cook
in this spacious, fun and funky but well organized kitchen.
Dolphin House deserves far more than an intriguing paragraph in the ocaisonal Bahamian guidebook.   The trip to Bimini is worth it if your only stop is to visit Dolphin House.  Who knows? You might even be lucky enough to get greeted at the entrance to Bimini’s harbour by a pod of tiny dolphins, like we did.  Life imitates are imitates life, Dolphin House, Bimini.
The pieces for this recently
tiled  closet came to Ashley
as a result of tropical storm
Andrew, which struck just
a few months earlier.
Sailfish, dolphin fish (aka mahi-mahi) and
bet you'll chuckle when Ashley tells you
about the coins and the mirror.
Lionfish mural.  Beautiful but poisonous and invasive
Caribbean interlopers.


Note:

This is a retrospective.  At the moment, I'm busy in job-hunt and writing gig finding mode while we sit out hurricane season and replenish our cruising kitty in Jacksonville Florida.  There is still plenty of material from our foray to continue posting, even before we head back out cruising.  While here, my tentative plan is to post about 2-3 times a week, based on some survey feedback*.
Just a few materials so far
are finding their way toward
 incorporation into Ashley's
next vision.
The stairs to Dolphin House's
virgin palette  and a glorious
view of both the Caribbean and
Atlantic shores.


*What would you like to see? Please consider offering your input on Galley Wench Tales blog site.  Click here to link to the survey.  And, thank you for helping make Galley Wench Tales a better blog.
This sign is less prominent than it
appears even  in this image.  It looks
so humble.  I might've missed it if
I wasn't looking for it, much less
anticipated how much Dolphin House
would awe me.