Who Is Anastasia?

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New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear, regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a visual folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown and/or painted by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how overgrown and wild it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ...


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Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

May 14, 2017

The Chattel Houses of Bimsha

The Chattel Houses on the Caribbean island of Barbados are a common sight, often taken for granted by those who reside there and see them every day. Dating back to “plantation days,” these tiny two room cottages were designed to be movable and transported when needed. Approximately 12 x 20 feet, and made of wood (without using any nails), they were positioned on concrete blocks, stones, or even a small hill. Sometimes, a small shed could be attached to the back for a bathroom of sorts.

The name “Chattel” comes from the French term, for a movable possession, and therefore, not real estate. Emancipated slaves were allowed to own homes, but they could not own land. Therefore, they created these small portable cabins. The owner of the house had to take it wherever he found work, from one (sugar) plantation to another, and would rent a small parcel of land for his house from his employer. If there was a landlord/tenant dispute, the owner of the house had to leave – and take his house with him. The walls of the home could be taken apart easily and placed on a flat bed truck, or a wagon pulled by a mule or horse. Once they reached their new location, the house could be reassembled as before.

"Aunt Mae's Chattel House," by Stacey Torres
Today, the island is still dotted with these curious little homes. They have a simple design of two windows and a center door to the front; and windows on each side (I'm not certain of the back). The windows were usually jalousie windows, or have storm shutters, and sometimes just open with no glass. Many of the houses are on permanent locations now with foundations, running water and electricity. Some have been refurbished and fitted to accommodate tourists and/or for commercial use. However, some of the original older houses are merely lived in as always.

"Da Neighbor's Goat," by Stacey Torres

"Saturday Morning," by Stacey Torres

Homeowners were working class people. They took tremendous pride in their homes, painting them in gorgeous color combinations and using fretwork as trim that served to give a tiny bit of shade and protect the wooden structure from weather. There are newer large homes built in the style of the original Chattel House, but nothing can ever take the place of these early “tiny homes.” Small, practical and transportable. The unique style of these sweet little houses are even more pronounced when you see one or two additions added on. The original starter house was once called a “One Roof.” If you added a shed, it was called “One Roof and a Shed.” If you added an addition, it would be a “Two Roof House and Shed.” The roofs were typically made of corrugated iron.

"Today Was Catchin' Day" by Stacey Torres

My maternal family's roots are from this island. I visited there in 1967 when my grandparents went on a pilgrimage back home for their 50th wedding anniversary. I was fortunate to visit the tiny Chattel House where my grandfather, Arthur Clement Moore, was born and raised. His two older sisters and some young cousins were still living there. I saw their gardens, their goats, their shed. However, they had graduated to electricity and plumbing by then. Like so many other Chattel Houses, this one had an addition built onto the back. I often dream of that little house and the garden of peppers and squash, and the goats that stood guard. It's funny how my memories always take me back to the gardens of my youth. It is my ultimate goal to be able to travel back to Barbados someday soon, to spend some time there finding my people and painting the beloved Chattel Houses of Bimsha (a nickname of endearment for the island).

So, I've been working on a series of beautiful little Chattel Houses, the way I remember them. These charming treasures, deep in the history of my people were built and remain full of pride and love. I'm sharing my heritage with you as part of my exhibit, "Stacey Torres: Living In Color," May 13 to June 17, at the Henry County Art Center. Commissioned paintings are possible.
"Share N Share Alike" by Stacey Torres

Originally published in The Courier-Times, April 2017

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I would love to hear from you regarding this post. Please feel free to leave your comments. All the best, Anastasia a/k/a Stacey

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips