Overall, it’s been a very good year for the arts in Cayman.
There have been challenges – in the form of budget cuts – and there have been some lows, such as the passing of long term resident and artist Sue Widmer, who sadly lost her battle with cancer this year.
There have been many positive developments as well however, not least of which is the progress that has been made on the new National Gallery and Education Centre. The new facility, which will provide the first permanent home for the National Art Collection, in addition to the community gardens and education centre is still on track to open in early February and will be a true community resource, where all residents will be welcome.
Another development of international importance for the Cayman Islands has been the addition of the Mind’s Eye Cultural Centre – the former home of Miss Lassie – to the World Monuments Watch list for 2012. The humble wattle and daub structure in South Sound, whose walls, ceilings and windows Miss Lassie covered with her biblical paintings, will sit alongside sites such as the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China on this list.
This designation is significant in that it will give the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, custodians of the site, greater leverage when soliciting financial support to preserve the site and transform it into a museum and gallery. Government has already pledged to give $500,000 to the site over the next four years.
The National Museum of the Cayman Islands also appointed a new director in October, Ms Peggy Leshikar Denton. Her 25 year association with the museum and her respect and appreciation of Caymanian culture make her the ideal candidate to lead the museum forward. Ms Leshikar Denton originally came to the Cayman Islands in 1980 to study and find out the true facts surrounding the Wreck of the Ten Sails. She has been here ever since.
National Gallery Director Natalie Urquhart was also delighted with the schools’ participation in the Governors Cup at this year’s Art @ Governors. Seven schools participated in the competition, the theme of which was “Art for Action: the power of art to unite a community” and proved there is a great deal of young talent out there. His excellency Governor Mr. Duncan Taylor and his wife Marie-Beatrice judged the competition, awarding the cup to Triple C school and a number of individual award certificates to young artists from participating schools.
Some excellent new talents have made their mark on the art scene this year, says Natalie. Of particular note is Davin Ebanks who held a solo exhibition, Blue Meridian, featuring his contemporary glass sculptures and installations that are reminiscent of a slice of the sea, frozen in time.
Another one to watch is Mani Dack, a Caymanian fashion designer who was featured at the London fashion week earlier this year.
There is no doubt that the art scene in Cayman is a vibrant one, that is constantly evolving and growing and 2012 looks set to bring plenty more development on this front.