Artist may have gift for royals

Artist Leulan Bodden has created a one-of-a-kind art work
made from the shells of several conchs, which has received Governor Duncan
Taylor’s endorsement as a possible gift to be presented to Prince William and
Kate Middleton from the Cayman Islands.

The artist created the special piece, which features four
conch shells fused together perfectly to make a rose-shaped vase, earlier this
year. Mr. Bodden said he had been wanting “to do something with the conch shell
for years.” Once completed, Mr. Bodden said he felt compelled to offer it as a
gift to the royal couple, as a gesture of kindness from the Cayman
Islands.

“I first came to the Governor’s office to ask if he was
interested in seeing the work and left it overnight. He apparently loved it and
said he would show it to Premier McKeeva Bush, as only heads of local
governments of Overseas
Territories have been
invited to the wedding. However, I was not able to get back in touch with the
Premier. As a result, the governor has instructed me to personally send it to Buckingham Palace’s gift depot, where it will be
inspected,” said Mr. Bodden. He explained that the staff at the depot would
make the decision of whether to send it on as a gift or to sell it for charity.

Governor Taylor commented on what he thought the prospects
of the art work reaching its intended recipients might be.

“Usually they are happy to receive gifts of no commercial
inducement, which is not the case here. This is very Caymanian and quite
distinctive, a highly unusual work of art,” said Mr. Taylor, who added that the
gift was a nice gesture and one he fully endorses.

“It is my hope that the Royals will receive it in that
spirit,” he said.

 

Conch history

The conch shell is an integral part of the history of the Cayman Islands. It served not only for its tasty
contents, but also as a means of protection when blown, which would alert ships
to impending danger. It takes the conch 12 to 15 years to develop a fully grown
shell.

“I really have a lot of respect for what the conch goes
through to get to the size we so take for granted,” said Mr. Bodden.

Several connoisseurs of art have praised Mr. Bodden’s
creation for its uniqueness and special rendering.

“There is art work 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,” said
Cayman National Cultural Foundation Director Henry Muttoo.

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 other ceramic-based tile known to man, according to the artist.

The Cayman Islands Coat of Arms and an inscription on the
mahogany wood holding the gift was done by Marvin Hurlstone of George Town
Crafts.

It will take roughly three days for the “Rose Conch,” as it
has been dubbed by its creator, to get to the United Kingdom via Fed Ex, Mr.
Bodden said. At that time the gift depot and screening centre will process the
gift and advise me by letter of what has happened and whether it has reached
its intended recipients.

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A closer look at the Rose Conch gift meant for the Royals.
PHOTO: STUART WILSON
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I suggest that a more appropriate, less suggestive, gift be presented to the Royals from the Cayman Islands. Something made of Caymanite or rare blue mahoe (a precious blue iguana carved in blue mahoe?) instead of fused conch shells which – alas as we all know – are prone to fading in a short period of time…

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