Artist Bernard Willington's 12 oil paintings of Augusta history - for a local bank's investment in the community free calender project - bring to life topics that normally rely on the written word or what few photographs remain of those scenes.
Looking at the paintings, one realizes the artist is most probably from Augusta, to have such a closeness and to have spent that much time with his topics. As it turns out, he is a British artist, hailing from south Wales, who owns a home and lives part-time in Augusta.
This combination of being familiar with Augusta, but still fascinated by it, gives him a fresh approach to his subject that not even a lifelong Augustan can have. He sees it, but not every day. Mr. Willington sees Augusta's landmarks, but he doesn't take them for granted. He sees Augusta's history, but he doesn't take that for granted, either. He combines the two in these paintings, which are artistically pleasing and historically correct.
Mr. Willington painted the subjects for a calendar for Georgia-Carolina Bancshares (owner of First Bank of Georgia). The paintings were unveiled recently at the bank's main office at 3527 Wheeler Road, but we picked up our free copy at one of its five branches.
Frank Christian, local art merchant and professional photographer, whose father and uncle photographed some of these scenes, came up with the idea. Dr. Ed Cashin, local historian and author, drew up a list of subjects. Pat Blanchard, the bank's president, approved the project.
The enlargement of the canal, steamboating days, the Cotton Exchange in its prime, Broad Street when it was unpaved - scenes most people cannot picture - are displayed in the calendar. Paying tribute to the city's past - now that's progress.
Tom Hunter, Augusta