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Salvage artist preserves memories of Fairfax County swim club in sculpture

Mixed-media artist Ronald Lord used debris from the now-demolished Meadow View Swimming Club in Rose Hill to make art (courtesy of Ronald Lord)

An artist from Fairfax County pays tribute to his childhood memories growing up in Rose Hill by using its remains to create art.

As a child, Ronald Lord would join his friends and family at the swimming pool at the Meadow View Swimming Club.

Starting at 6 years old until his teenage years, Lord would get up at 7 a.m. so he and his brothers could go to swim team practice. He also has fond memories of playing in the woods and rundown homes that surrounded the club throughout the 1960s.

Now, those memories no longer have a physical anchor. The swimming club was closed in the 1980s, converted into a private school and day care center, and finally demolished in 2017 to make way for more houses, according to the Rose Hill Civic Association.

But while others would see the wreckage as nothing more than refuse, Lord saw an opportunity to create art that would preserve those childhood memories.

As Lord got older, he turned to the artistic world, living near Washington D.C. where he could go to the National Portrait Gallery. Folk art and other self-taught pieces inspired him to find his medium of expression.

Lord also worked in trades such as home improvement that taught him the process of building and gave him access to materials.

“I’ve played around with all sorts of materials,” Lord told FFXnow. “Wax, bead weaving, clay, wood carving, paper, stained glass and of course wood and metal salvage that I find a very satisfying medium and is what I’m concentrating on mainly now. I took to creating as a youngster with wax and beads and have been on a creative journey ever since.”

Now a resident of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Lord creates pieces made from various pieces of salvage. He created two “Regina Bay” pieces, for instance, using wood, metal boring bits, glass, handmade nails, and other detritus found in and around a gold mine in Northwestern Ontario, Canada near cabins owned by his wife’s family.

Lord’s “Meadow View” piece is made from similar components and brings back the memory of those childhood days.

“For those who knew Meadow View, I hope it brings back all the memories associated with the fun we had growing up with all the activities there,” he said, recalling Fourth of July and Memorial Day festivities with pool contests involving greased watermelons and “hundreds of coins thrown in for all of us to collect once the whistle sounded.”

There were also the “swim team meets and the daily 7:00 a.m. practice sessions, eyes burning from chlorinated water, the snack bar and chit books but most of all the innocence and joy of growing up then,” he says.

Lord is currently working on an outdoor installation at a hacienda in Alamos, Mexico, his theme will incorporate local salvage such as bones, metal, paint and stone.

“It is going to focus on the immeasurable number of back [breaking] hours and manpower it took to create this heavenly place out of the tough Sonoran desert,” Lord said of his project.

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