Portrait of Grand Bahama Labyrinth founder, Barbara Chester, presented to Garden of the Groves
By Paula Boyd-Farrington
Mar 14, 2014 - 5:01:29 PM
The portrait commissioned by Erika Gates, painted in oil by Claudette Dean of Mrs. Barbara Chester, founder of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth. “Barbara’s vision of creating a symbolic path where visitors and local residents could pause, reflect, and renew their spirits seems such a natural part of the Garden of the Groves experience—and her beautiful portrait now seems right at home too overlooking the grounds of The Labyrinth.”
Freeport, Bahamas - Longtime Grand Bahama resident, Barbara Chester, who brought the community together to create The Grand Bahama Labyrinth—a sacred and spiritual gathering place of contemplation and walking meditation—has been honored with the placement of her portrait, painted by local artist Claudette Dean, installed in The Garden of The Groves’ replica of the island’s first chapel, atop a spot overlooking the healing plantings, trees, and statuary surrounding the entrance to The Grand Bahama Labyrinth.
The large oil painting by Ms. Dean was a gift from Erika Gates,
owner and president of Garden of the Groves. Barbara and Erika worked long hours together in the early days of the Gardens’ with re-opening and renovations following the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
“The Grand Bahama Labyrinth has been a beautiful addition to The Gardens”, adds Erika.
“Barbara’s vision of creating a symbolic path where visitors and local residents could pause, reflect, and renew their spirits seems such a natural part of the Garden of the Groves experience—and her beautiful portrait now seems right at home too overlooking the grounds of The Labyrinth.”
Having recently relocated to her native England, Barbara Chester remembers fondly the way the entire Grand Bahama community came together to build The Grand Bahama Labyrinth, “So many companies and volunteers provided hands, hearts, and funds to make this sacred path happen. Greg Farrington of Entech Construction poured our foundation, artist Susan Moir Mackay worked night and day orchestrating the comings and goings of scores of volunteers enlisted to mark out and paint the Labyrinth’s Chartres Cathedral replica design, Robbin Whachell and Dave Mackey of TheBahamasWeekly.com have helped us share the good news about The Labyrinth from the very beginning, Paula Boyd Farrington created graphics and signage for us via Freeport Advertising & Printing, and Jean Hivert worked tirelessly behind the scenes keeping track of it all.
Artist Claudette Dean and her portrait in oil, with Barbara Chester at its new home in the chapel of the Garden of the Groves, presented on February 22nd, 2014.
"I am grateful to so many who lent their talents to making this gathering place happen—too many to mention all by name here—and I am thankful that The Labyrinth has become a place where celebrations of the spirit happen often whether hosting music presentations, World Peace prayers, International Women’s Day events, weddings, Christmas carols, or simply individuals walking the symbolic path that leads us each in our own way back to center.”
Artist Claudette Dean, who created the portrait of Barbara, was also involved in introducing Grand Bahama to The Labyrinth, inviting Barbara to speak at her 2007 art exhibitions titled, “Lumiere”. A longtime friend, Claudette recalls her thoughts around creating Barbara’s portrait, “When commissioned by Erika Gates to paint a portrait of Barbara Chester, I was both humbled and grateful. Barbara is many things to me: a teacher, mentor, role model, but most importantly she is my friend, my sister. Always guided by spirit and connected to Source, she shares wisdom, stands for truth, fights for justice and always strives for excellence in whatever she endeavors. I would be remiss if I did not add that she does all of these things not only with a compassionate heart but with a joie de vivre that is completely captivating and contagious.“
“The Grand Bahama Labyrinth was a labor of love for Barbara, a calling; with determination, perseverance, hard work, and the support of many who believed in her and her vision, it was brought into manifestation. It is truly Barbara’s gift to the people of Grand Bahama, whom she loves so dearly, and to the many visitors who come to the Garden of The Groves and walk the Path. Thank-you Barbara, you have elevated all of us and we love you.“
Another longtime friend, Paula Boyd Farrington, is pleased to see Barbara’s portrait at the Gardens in what seems to be the most natural of all places for it—overlooking her beloved Labyrinth. “Barbara has long been devoted to bringing people together in the most uplifting ways. She has given the island a great gift in following her heart and vision to create and maintain The Grand Bahama Labyrinth. Barbara’s natural beauty and grace is well reflected in Claudette Dean’s portrait—and in the green and lovingly thought-out garden areas of the Labyrinth.”
“Barbara’s extensive knowledge about the history and traditions of sacred Labyrinth spaces makes a tremendous contribution to the island, putting Grand Bahama solidly on the map of visitors far and wide who seek out places of peaceful contemplation in their travels. Now that Barbara is spending more time in England (lucky England!), I hope she will be one of those frequent visitors to The Grand Bahama Labyrinth path, enjoying the delights of this serene place, and enjoying the bevy of dear friends and loved ones here who hold her in their hearts in between visits! We all miss you, Barbara, so please come back soon!”, Paula added.
Grand Bahama has been Barbara’s home for several decades, after
she and her late husband, Jack Chester, were introduced to the island by
friends residing here. Their extensive business and yacht-chartering experience
led them to invest in Port Lucaya Marina, which they successfully operated and
managed, together with the marketplace and resort at Port Lucaya, for many
years—garnering friends from all around the island, and the world, as they
promoted Port Lucaya as a destination.
"It was an enormous honour and with great joy that I was able
follow my path and create a Labyrinth in the Garden of the Groves,"
Chester said. "I
have been very blessed with enormous loving guidance from my
Creator, help and support from my friends and fellow members of our
Community and especially from my dear friend Erika Gates , in whose
Gardens our Labyrinth has her home.
I have been truly blessed, once again, and am reminded that there
are only and always blessings connected with the Labyrinth."
Check out the Grand Bahama Labyrinth features HERE
The Dedication of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth
The Creation of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth
Barbara Chester announced the Grand Bahama Labyrinth when she gave an introductory talk on labyrinths at the Freeport Art Center in 2008. Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com
Owner and president of Garden of the Groves, Erika Gates (right) presents founder of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth, Barbara Chester (center) with a portrait she commissioned by Claudette Dean (left) in 2010. The portrait is to commemorate the contribution Mrs. Chester has made to the Garden and the island of Grand Bahama, and was presented to the Gardens for display in the chapel at the Garden of the Groves on February 22nd, 2014.
"The Labyrinth has become a place where celebrations of the spirit happen often whether hosting music presentations, World Peace prayers, International Women’s Day events, weddings, Christmas carols, or simply individuals walking the symbolic path that leads us each in our own way back to center.”
The portrait of Barbara Chester by Claudette Dean is on display in the chapel on the hill at the Garden of the Groves, which overlooks the Grand Bahama Labyrinth below.
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