The bigger picture

Diver, artist and conservationist Robert
Wyland is feted worldwide for his work in a multitude of disciplines. Known
simply by his last name, Wyland returns to Cayman to be inducted into the
International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. It is an accolade of which the Californian
is proud.

 “I’m honoured to be part of that group of incredible
legends of the sea, past and present. These are my peers and heroes and I look
forward to being an ambassador for Cayman Islands
– a place that has inspired my art for many years: paintings, sculptures and
monumental murals,” he said.

Premier destination

Wyland has been coming to Cayman
for twenty years. He says that the reef was impacted by climate change and
global warming but it’s coming back in a big way and that he considers Grand Cayman to be in his top ten premier diving spots in
the world, as did Jacques Cousteau. Wyland praised the clear water, beautiful
reefs and return of fish.

“We divers have the opportunity to
visit these places and see things that most people on earth will never see, and
we also have the ability to inspire people and not only create awareness about
issues like coral reefs and fish, large and small – we also have the ability to
cause action.

“I believe that art is going to
play one of the most important roles in this century of inspiring people to get
involved in conservation issues in saltwater and fresh water habitats.”

The marine life artist has just
returned from Vancouver
where he was putting the finishing touches to restoring one of his giant
murals. As the official Olympic artist for the United States team, he was adding
the official Olympic logo and rings to an older work, something he described as
‘supercool’.

Foundation

Wyland is also big mates with one
Guy Harvey and like the Cayman conservationist and artist he is active in
spreading the word about conservation. The Wyland Foundation is dedicated to
promoting, protecting and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways and marine
life. It encourages environmental awareness through education programs,
life-size public arts projects and community events.

 Wyland said that looking at the bigger picture
is essential.

“The idea for us is to bridge the
world of art and science, to learn everything we can, share our knowledge and
cause action. Our ultimate goal is to inspire and empower kids.”

“Conservation, once installed in
the hearts and minds of children, will inspire them to take care of the
environment. They will be better stewards and eventually ambassadors for the
planet,” said Wyland.

Water

There is one major issue that
Wyland says is central and that is simply clean water. The United Nations has
proclaimed that this is the decade of water, and the Wyland Foundation’s own
core message has been that ‘water is life’, explained the artist.

“Without clean water we really
don’t have a quality of life for us or the animals or habitats so it’s all connected
to water. We like to say that every drop counts and I tell the kids to make
every drop a clean drop. Those simple messages can be powerful and when art is
involved it can instil a deep passion for ecology.”

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