McCoy Prize raises the bar on Caymanian art

The popular annual visual arts event, the McCoy Prize, is to open this Thursday with winners of the much coveted award to be announced on the night.

Leonard Dilbert, deputy director at the National Museum – which will host the 2006 McCoy Prize – said that the prize has attracted an unprecedented number of entries, enticing both established and new artists.

‘The response has been wonderful with over 40 pieces of artwork submitted. Some of the artists have been participating in the prize since its inception and it is exciting to see these artists develop their skills,’ he said.

The addition of a pre-jury to this year’s prize will, Mr. Dilbert said, raise the bar of the quality of work at the exhibition.

‘A pre-jury was added to this year’s prize in order to push for a higher standard of work. People visiting the exhibition won’t see such a broad spectrum of artwork on show, only pieces of an exceptionally high standard.’

Mr. Dilbert added that the pre-jury, held last week and judged by a representative from the National Gallery and National Museum, saw approximately 80 per cent of the submitted artwork selected.

Entries for this year’s prize are diverse, Mr. Dilbert added, citing Cayman’s rapidly developing art’s scene as one of the driving forces behind this.

‘There are some interesting and creative pieces and looking at these you can clearly see a broadening of what Caymanian artists are trying to achieve,’ he said.

‘This year the show has attracted a large number of more modern artworks which demonstrates how Cayman’s artists are becoming more creative.’

The McCoy Prize will be held at the National Museum’s Support Facility at Pasadora Place, which Mr. Dilbert said lends itself to a warehouse/industrial feel, with metal mesh partitions and a lighting scheme designed to reflect this theme.

The prize, set up by the North Side’s McCoy family in 2001 and jointly administered by the National Gallery, the National Museum and prize creator Harris McCoy III, is now in its fifth year and is an eagerly awaited event on the visual arts calendar.

Set up to encourage and reward excellence in Caymanian art, the prize spans three categories – fine art, fine photography and fine craft – as well as a people’s choice, artist’s award and newly-created best in show.

The prize has spurred many past winners to excel in art and, while offering a frisson of excitement on the arts calendar, also serves as an organised means to establish a national collection of Caymanian art. All winning pieces are added to the McCoy Collection, part of the National Collection.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite piece in the people’s choice award. Forms will be available to fill out which can be posted in a designated box at the show. The winner will be announced via media on 15 June.

Mr. Dilbert said: ‘This year’s prize promises to be an exciting show. There truly is some outstanding work and we urge the local community to come out and support our Caymanian artists.’

The McCoy Prize opens Thursday at 6.30pm. Awards for individual categories and best in show will be announced on the night. The evening will include live entertainment, complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The exhibition runs until 28 July and is free to attend.

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