National Gallery show inspires and reimagines

21st Century Cayman, the
National Gallery’s vibrant and thought provoking exhibition, enjoyed rave
reviews from many of those who attended the opening night last Thursday.

Running until 26 May, the
exhibition explores the energy and relevancy of art which combines the vision
of contemporary artists and traditional artisans.

lecturer at the International College of the Cayman Islands Fahima Ahmad said:
“The show was visually interesting to say the least. The various wauries and
the caboose were among the Caymanian material culture reinterpreted visually
and successfully [in] that there is a market for these commodities. 

ICCI student, Kerrilyn Reveres, repeatedly said that she would purchase the
caboose if available today.  It was
strong in terms of design and function.

wauries were beautiful post-modern sculptures. Mr. Mann’s large thatched
catboat sculpture paid homage to a time-old Caymanian tradition while standing
as an elegant yet ephemeral organic piece,”she added.

Attendee Carl Brown said: “The premise
of the show was intriguing and I was keen to see how each artist and artisan
had interpreted the brief.

“There’s always a new way to look
at an old path making it almost new again. [The show was] fresh and interesting
with new thoughts on tried and tested themes and methods, proving there is new
in all that seems to be old.”

The show’s artists and artisans
were  Marlena Anglin, Shane ‘Dready’ Aquart, David
Bridgeman, Randy Chollette, Carmen Connolly, Deal Ebanks, Rosemay Ebanks, Chris
Mann, Lizzie Powell, Dianne Scott, Renate Seffer, Mike Seffer, Gordon Solomon, Nasaria
Suckoo Chollette, Avril Ward, Tenson Bodden, Jane Webster, Leonard Dilbert,
Miguel Powery, Rudy Solomon, Maureen Anderson Berry and Aston Ebanks.

artist John Broad said: “I felt this exhibition to be very relevant now, as, it’s
important to preserve the traditions that have made Cayman so unique,
especially for the future generations.

portrait was of Catherine Susanna Connolly, born in 1838 in East End. I worked
with thatch, based on a chuck close technique, using a grid system. It provided
a juxtaposition for the collage, enhanced with natural chalk pigments.

thatch was supplied by Ms Rosemary of West Bay.”

curated show benefitted from the unifying concept and reflected the cultural crossroads
Cayman faces.

“The concept for 21st Century
Cayman emerged over a series of discussions I had relating to Caymanian
heritage and culture, and what many perceive as a disconnect between the two,”
said the gallery’s director and the curator of the show, Natalie Urqhuart.

 “By inviting traditional crafters and fine
artist to collaborate on projects, I hoped to encourage the exchange of skills
and ideas from both sides,” she added.

 “The resulting work is some
of the most innovative and refreshing art that I have seen in Cayman in a
while. It is firmly based in our heritage but with a distinctly contemporary

Mrs. Urqhuart said: “Ultimately we
hope it will inspire the continuation of our traditional heritage in a way that
is accessible and relevant to our younger generation and encourage debate about
who we want to be as 21st Century Caymanians.”

The 38-piece show, sponsored by
Butterfield, was supported by the Cayman Islands National Arts Council.

Wray Banker, president of the
Cayman Islands Traditional Arts Council and himself a contributor to the show,
said: “From the traditional artisans’ perspective; the show has helped them find
and explore different avenues of artistic expression that connects the traditional
aspects of Cayman’s cultural legacy with mainstream art.

“Such work demonstrates how well
traditional artisans can connect with Cayman’s youth and different audiences to
find a new appreciation for traditional arts.  

 “All the artisans got a lot out of the
partnerships. It has definitely broadened their horizons and has given them an
appreciation of the aesthetic value of project. Most of their work is
utilitarian and they have definitely come away with a deeper appreciation of
the aesthetic side of art,” he added.

The show was officially opened with
speeches by Culture Minister Mark Scotland and Sheree Ebanks a director and
Head of Wealth Management at Butterfield.

In his address Mr. Scotland said: [W]hile
we do have many pressing issues competing for our attention these days,
stopping and thinking about the challenge of safeguarding our heritage is also

“If we lose sight of what and who
went before us, our cultural roots may well wither. However, we can ill afford
the loss of the many traditional crafts which were once central to the Caymanian way of life.”