A watercolour of the Savannah from the east side near the St Ann’s roundabout, dated 1977 © Mary Adam
I’ve painted in the Savannah since the 1970s. Some readers would be too young to remember how it was then, with two-way traffic which was a lot slower than it is now. There were frequent massive traffic jams in the afternoons when school was out. In those days it was easier to park near enough to pack up quickly and reach the car before the rain came down.
I always preferred working on the east side, something about the light, but that hasn’t been possible for many years now unless one walks a long distance loaded down with gear and is prepared for everything to be soaked in the event of a downpour.
It would be nice if the Ministry would allow artists to drive their cars onto the Savannah, perhaps with special passes and restricted to certain days and times. I often wanted to do that but never did.
There is so much to enjoy in the Savannah and so much to inspire the artist: the fresh air and the open space; the football, the cricket and the rugby that are played there regularly; the trees for their shade and their flowering in season – Poui, Immortelle, and Queen of Flowers among others. And then you have kite-flying, coconut vendors, the Pitch Walk and joggers.
Until recently I usually went on my own. Passers-by would sometimes pause to watch. They might ask a polite question, or say how much they themselves always wanted to draw and paint, and move on. Nobody ever bothered me. I haven’t been there for a long while though – in fact, come to think of it, since the parking area opposite Frederick Street was blocked off with a barrier. That’s where I used to park. I tend to avoid parking on the road with the high-speed traffic whooshing by. The barrier at the entrance to the Savannah is therefore a deterrent – to me, and to how many others like me? No doubt it was placed there for a reason and deterring artists is an unintended consequence. But it may be something that can be addressed and rectified. Perhaps the ASTT can petition the Ministry on behalf of artists?
(This was first published in the ASTT Newsletter, September 2014)