A new exhibition, “Prayer Canvases”, opens at the National Gallery on 17 December. Coinciding with the opening of the Mind’s Eye Cultural Centre in South Sound, this new temporary exhibition consists of 25 of the late Miss Lassie’s paintings.
An intuitive artist, Miss Lassie (aka Gladwyn Bush) had never picked up a paintbrush until she had a religious vision at age 62. From the time of that vision, however, until her death 27 years later, she painted prolifically, anywhere she could – on canvases, walls, doors and even furniture.
Her paintings, though childishly simple, have strong religious themes and often represent visions or prayers she had. Henry Muttoo, director of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation and curator of the exhibition, says this is a common trait in intuitive artists: they are typically untrained, are compelled to do what they do, are religious or claim religious-type experiences, and their work retains a childlike innocence. The paintings that have been selected for the exhibition tell various stories from the Bible.
“Much like medieval and early Renaissance church paintings, each canvas depicts a verse or story from the Bible,” says Kaitlyn Elphinstone, CNCF programmes and marketing officer. “Henry has carefully matched each painting to its respective Bible verse. These verses will be on display under each painting at the exhibition.”
Mr. Muttoo, who knew Miss Lassie, says that her paintings tell the story of her life experiences mirrored in the life of Jesus Christ – experiences of joy, pain, suffering, misunderstanding, forgiveness and generosity.
Mr. Muttoo has worked tirelessly to ensure her home and paintings are conserved and restored, so that a wider audience could appreciate them.
“As soon as I met her I knew this was a rare human being – the kind of individual fortunate to have been blessed,” he says. “Time and her passing only strengthened that conviction. I knew that her visions had to become known, first to the people of the Cayman Islands and after that to the world.”