A little over a year ago, in October 2011, it was announced that the former home of visionary artist Gladwyn K. Bush’s “Miss Lassie” in South Sound was being added to the World Monuments Fund listing.
This meant that the humble wattle and daub cottage, with its walls, ceilings and windows covered in childlike paintings, was considered as culturally important as world famous sites such as the Taj Mahal and the Valley of the Kings.
In response to this announcement, the Cayman Islands government pledged to donate $500,000 over four years to support the work being done by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation at the site of Miss Lassie’s home.
This funding, along with public donations, has allowed CNCF to stablise the house, partly restore the Mind’s Eye Intuitive Art Centre on the property and to conserve the paintings and replicate some that are too fragile to remain in situ.
This Saturday, 15 December, the CNCF celebrates the culmination of several years of restoration and conservation work, with the official opening of the Mind’s Eye Cultural Centre.
Once open to the public CNCF will be offering guided tours and intuitive art sessions of the centre. Tours will be scheduled from 10 to 11am on the second and last Saturday of each month and will be by appointment only.
Visitors will be able to view the inside of the wattle and daub house, where the walls and ceilings are covered in Miss Lassie’s paintings and the house will be set up to replicate what it would have looked like when Miss Lassie and her family lived there. The Mind’s Eye Intuitive Art Centre will also be available for private functions and events.
Local artist Sue Howe has worked tirelessly on replicating the painted windows and doors of the house and these will also be on display.
“Her house is fascinating,” Sue says. “It must have been difficult for her to get to some of the areas that she has painted in her house, not to mention the hours she must have spent daily painting and repainting images and patterns. There is nothing to compare here, on an art level, to what she has created in that house. I think anyone who sees it will come away with a better understanding of who Miss Lassie was, and how she chose to express herself.”
It remains a work in progress, however, and there is still plenty to be done to preserve this slice of Caymanian history.
“All of us at CNCF are looking forward to working even harder in the coming year as we continue the essential work of preserving the cultural heritage that tells our Island’s story,” says Lorna Bush, CNCF programmes and public education officer.