When her mother died, a young girl’s 67-year-old grandmother put her artistic abilities to work to create a happy environment for the child.
Brooklyn Bodden’s mother died at the age of 32, when Brooklyn was just 3 years old. Since that time, her grandmother, Savannah Newlands resident Corinthia Bodden-Wilson, has spent countless hours turning her home into an expression of childhood happiness bursting with colorful characters.
The child’s room is decorated from ceiling to floor with vibrant creations. There are painted flowers, stingrays and dolphins, along with happy-face starfish, jellyfish, sharks and turtles munching on sea grass. Colorful butterflies, birds and chickens play among the trees. A multi-hued bedspread and bedside lamp match the decorated walls. In the bathroom, a multitude of brightly colored cartoons and storybook characters adorn the walls. A happy donkey painted at the door lifts a hoof in greeting. Bunnies, porky pigs, yellow sunbursts, beach slippers, cats, dogs, mice, more happy fish and orange carrot sticks fill the room.
“My expression of childhood happiness is anything that makes you positive and happy,” said Ms. Bodden-Wilson.
She had five children of her own when her husband disappeared, leaving her with the children to raise and making survival her only focus from the moment he left, she said.
“I felt like I was the only one there for them, from the time he went missing up until this day, so I had to do anything to make them happy,” she said.
“My children say I am mad, and who wouldn’t, since I call myself the “Asstist” instead of an artist, but I am just a normal happy person,” she said with a laugh, adding her grandchildren think she’s a big toy.
She said her moniker of “Asstist” came about from a confrontation with her boss when he called her an “ass” while she was trying to work on her artistic talents. Now, her children have encouraged her to use the word as the basis of her creations and every piece of her work carries the trademark.
Ms. Bodden-Wilson not only paints, she also writes books, decorates, does tiling and builds children’s furniture. One time she wanted to dance on television, but when that did not come about, she bought a Mickey Mouse suit and danced at a children’s party instead.
She said her second husband thinks what she does “is a bunch of nonsense,” she admits. “He said I can’t see anyone throwing away anything and [not coming and taking] it, and put it in [our] yard. I agree I have lost a little piece of the brain, in a good way. So they can expect anything from me,” she added with a giggle.
A kaleidoscope of paintings littering her front yard and house walls is an indication of the creative passion within. Around a brightly decorated kiddie pool sit decorated animals, birds, children’s benches and chairs made from wood and collected stones.
Not all of Ms. Bodden-Wilson’s creations and amazing finds sit in her front yard. Some items from her collection can be found at the Farmers Market in George Town.