Now & Then exhibition extraordinary

A freighter known as The Cali is foundering in George Town Harbour as modern cruise ships look on. Soon she’ll be sitting at the bottom of the sea. Miss Cayman 1950 contestants lounge on Seven Mile Beach whilst young ladies from 2012 bask in the sun on loungers nearby. Passengers board a seaplane from a bygone era as an American Airlines 737 takes to the skies behind them. 

These images and more form the latest exhibition at The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands called “Now & Then”; an extraordinary merging of the past and the present through the magic of modern technology. Any history buff or person familiar with the Cayman Islands should make visiting this exhibition a priority before it ends on 11 December. The photographs are simply magnificent and will transport the viewer to a time more than 60 years ago when life moved at a slower pace. To see these archived pictures set inside shots of the same locations but in the present day is a fascinating experience. 

Photographs from the Cayman Islands National Archive and the Cayman Free Press Steinmetz Collection were replicated and digitally merged by photographer Courtney Platt who took all the recent photographs in the exhibition. Platt has been living in Grand Cayman since 1983 and creating photos since 1976. His resume includes everything from events, weddings and fine art photography to assignments with the prestigious National Geographic Magazine. 

The Steinmetz Collection forms part of the Cayman Free Press archives. These were pictures taken in 1950 by world-renowned commercial photographer Joseph Janney Steinmetz, whose work has been referred to as “an American social history.” He visited the Cayman Islands more than 60 years ago and took a series of photographs depicting life here, which are now stunningly realised in this presentation. 

The Cayman Islands National Archive plays an essential role in documenting the evolution of Caymanian society by preserving and contributing to the individual and collective memory. The historic holdings of the National Archive consist of records, archival materials such as photographs and documents, and publications in various formats, which document the history of the Cayman Islands and its way of life. 

There has been an overwhelmingly positive reaction to “Now & Then” since it opened to the public on 12 October, and Natalie Urquhart, director of the gallery, said she has been thrilled to see residents and visitors enjoying it so much. “The response to the Now and Then exhibition has really surpassed expectations. These beautiful photographs create a ‘time travel’ effect which is both engaging and somewhat nostalgic,” Urquhart said. “Courtney has created a remarkable collection that everyone can relate to in some way.” 


The exhibition runs through 11 December and is sponsored by Susan A. Olde. 

Any history buff or person familiar with the Cayman Islands should make visiting this exhibition a priority before it ends on 11 December. 

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