Artist conchs out

Caymanian Artist Leulan Bodden has designed a one-of-a-kind piece of art made from the shell of a conch.

Bodden, who is known for his unconventional approach to his artwork and his unique rendering of ideas, says his latest creation is the result of several factors.

“I have wanted to do something special with the conch shell for years. Traditionally, this creature has been a source of sustenance for our people, and when blown, the shell was used as a way of alerting ships and seamen of impending danger,” he says.

The artist’s new piece has caught the attention of several connoisseurs in the arts on island. Henry Muttoo, director of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, says “There is artwork using the conch shell all over the Caribbean, but this is unique in the way the artist has fused the shell and made it into a one-of-a-kind piece. I have never seen anything like it.”

Spiritual world as guide

The marvel gleaned from observing this piece is partly due to the initial thought that what you are looking at is a naturally occurring anomaly.

Bodden attempts to explain the process behind his latest offering: “I had no idea what I was doing. I was thinking about making some kind of table vase, and never having worked with conch shells before, I just jumped in and let the spiritual world guide me.”

A diamond blade was used to cut the shell, as it is made up of calcium deposits secreted by the conch throughout its lifetime and is harder than any ceramic-based tile known to man, according to Bodden.

“It takes the conch 12 to 15 years to develop its shell, and I really have a lot of respect for what the animal goes through to get to the size that we so take for granted when we catch them for food. That is why it is so important to protect them,” he says.

He explains that every time we eat a piece of conch, we are experiencing something that took 12 years in the making.

The Rose Conch is the title the artist chose for this work, which he said he plans to display at the upcoming Agricultural Show.