Prints by Gillian Stevens to Help Conservation of Solviken Property Available at Jessie Edwards Studio

Giclee prints of Gillian Steven's collage painting "Homage to the Solviken" will be available in two limited editions through the Jessie Edwards Studio with 25% of the net proceeds donated to benefit Block Island Conservancy's next phase in the conservation of the Solviken property.

A framed print was unveiled at Block Island Conservancy's Annual Meeting on Sunday, October 6. It is also on display at BIC's new Education Center in the renovated Old Schoolhouse on Weldon's Way behind the Figurehead building. The prints are being offered rolled in tubes in two editions: ten 19"x30" numbered and signed for $500.00 and 200 16"x23" numbered and signed for $250.00. Matted prints, and matted and framed prints are also available through Jessie Edwards Studio located on the 2nd floor of the Post Office Building (401-466-5314).

These prints vividly replicate the original collage which was exhibited in the Jessie Edwards Studio in August and was snapped up within hours! The 20 7/8"x33 3/4" collage depicts the Solviken House in its final stage of poignant dilapidation after decades of disuse, neglect, stormy weather, and the most recent battering by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Because of its extreme deterioration, the house was removed in the summer. Plans for the property are currently in the works.

In Stephen's collage, the clarity of the pristine blue-green background and the angle of morning light from the east define the simple lines of the building and bring its rough yet subtle textures into relief: crackling paint, weathered shingles, frayed tar paper, bare boards, and vacant windows. The layers of the structure are peeled away in this image. Stevens first paints and textures her own paper and then cuts the paper into myriad pieces in order to reassemble the structure, much in the way the pieces of a quilt come together.

For Stevens, this is both an artistic technique and a meditative process which evokes her memories of growing up in the 1950s and early 60s - a homage to the past and a hope for its preservation in the future.

Jessie Edwards Studio
2nd Floor, Old Post Office Building, Old Harbor
P.O. Box 89
Block Island, RI 02807

The Solviken property involves two lots totaling an acre of land between Harbor Pond and the inset of Crescent Beach. Environmentally it is an extremely vulnerable location. A third half-acre in the parcel has been acquired by the owner of the adjacent land for limited development. Block Island Conservancy partnered with the Block Island Land Trust in order to acquire the property.

The property was the home to the Solviken Restaurant in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and many years prior the building housed the Negus family and their blacksmith shop. The building has been unused for many years and has deteriorated to the point it cannot be saved.

Thanks to the efforts of the many generous donors in our community the Solviken property on Corn Neck road was purchased by Block Island Conservancy and the Block Island Land Trust.  The final closing on the land occurred in the late fall of 2012.  Over the past year we have been working to develop a use program and master plan for the property.

In the spring of this year we were approached by the Committee for the Great Salt Pond and representatives from the Rhode Island Natural History Survey (Kate Venturini) and RICRMC (Caitlin Chafee) about how they could participate in the project.  The idea being to demonstrate the importance of preserving our natural coastal features, native plants, proper coastal barrier protection practices and invasive plant removal strategies while allowing the public to enjoy the Solviken property.  Each group is very excited about the possibilities of adding educational elements to showcase our various conservation efforts through this very accessible property.

To that end we have had several meetings to determine the contributions each group can make to the project, develop program ideas and discuss master plan concepts for the site.  Another meeting is scheduled for late this fall to carry the design process to a point where we can begin to develop phase one final plans for pricing of the work.  Derek van Lent, president of Van Lent Associates landscape architects and a BIC Director, has donated his firm’s services to help create the master plan for the property.  They have prepared a preliminary base plan for the site and created multiple concept plans to stimulate the group discussions.  Cherenzia Associates engineering and survey professionals have been hired to coalesce the available base survey information so that it may be used as the basis for this design process.

 The overall goal is to produce a low impact design for the site that will provide educational opportunities for our conservation groups to demonstrate proper coastal feature management practices to our members and the public. Through the preservation of this property we will educate the public about the benefits of open space conservation and the variety of proper techniques to achieve this in the coastal environment. 


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