Ed Oliver’s work continues to leave a mark in Cayman.
On Saturday, the Cayman Islands National Museum hosted an exhibition in memory of the artist and photographer while displaying some of his works that were donated by his wife, Barbara.
The display featured paintings of the museum, the old George Town waterfront, a house on Manse Road, the Edward Bodden Airport shack in Little Cayman and a host of indigenous animals and local faces.
Some of his drawings and photographs at the museum tell of his trips around the world to places such as India and China. From his days overseas in the infantry, Mr. Ed, as he was affectionately known, brought with him beautiful drawings from those cultures which he considered beautiful and full of a rich culture today his legacy gives us a sharp reminder of how Cayman really was in those days.
Arriving in the Cayman Islands in the 1960s after leaving the field of advertising and industrial design, Mr. Ed continued his love of capturing nature. Besides being a painter, Mr. Ed operated his own gallery in the heart of George Town, taught at the Triple C School, created brochures for condominiums, freelance photographer and wrote many books such as Wotcha Say, Cayman Recipes and Duppies Is.
After a full day’s work of doing what he enjoyed most; painting, he would get out his “gut bucket” musical instrument and have himself a fine old time. Mr. Ed also taught art classes and some of his students included the well-known Bendyl Hydes, Rafael Bodden and Danny Ebanks whose paintings are popular today.
When he arrived in the Cayman Islands in the 1960s, there was little here. The most popular spot was Seven Mile Beach and Mr. Ed loved to capture it on canvas. Mr. Ed resided on Manse Road in the District of Bodden Town where on many bright and sunny days you could see him on the beach capturing Cayman scenes on his artist’s easel.
He built his home in 1964 and, by mail order, constructed the home by sending photographs of the various stages back to Cayman to be completed by local builders Edison Jackson and Jim Berry. It took eight months for them to complete the home.