Cheddie's Carving Studio, Anguilla
From matchsticks to mermaids:
Cheddie Richardson is Anguilla's most famous local artist.
At the age of 9, Cheddie Richardson developed a love for making things out of wood. First he made boats out of matchsticks, then began sculpting original works from driftwood.
Even though he's been carving wood objects for almost a quarter of a century, he says it still takes considerable time, days even, to decide what to fashion out of each new piece of wood.
Cheddie needs the time for careful deliberation before starting to work because he uses primarily driftwood and buttonwood mangrove, so each piece truly is unique, different.
"A piece of wood is a being in its own right," Cheddie explains. "I have to study it to find out what it's going to be. I try to create from shapes that are already there. I bring them out more so everyone can see them."
He concentrates on fashioning nature-oriented subjects that a typical visitor to Anguilla will see, such as a fish, a pelican, or a dolphin.
Still, when the shape of the wood is just right, he sometimes will switch to a more fanciful theme, particularly mermaids. In fact one of his favorite carvings and one he has kept for his own private collection is a large driftwood mermaid.
"It was a very interesting piece of wood. It split at one end to form trailing hair, as if it was in motion."
Like all of his carvings, this one required a tremendous amount of time: almost 2 months. Although this particular piece is not for sale, Cheddie does have other mermaids available when he's found the right piece of wood.
Even his very popular small mahogany dolphin take almost two full 8-hour days to complete.
Since 1992 Cheddie has been selling from his studio and gallery, which he "built from scratch," into the style of a two-story West Indies Villa with lots of "bright colors to catch your eye."
The sales desk inside the gallery is just as attention-grabbing, the bow of a sailboat with both sail and mast, which Cheddie also made.