From whimsical to nostalgic

Works featured at the Big Art Auction 2 raised money for the National Gallery and highlighted many of Cayman’s popluar and accomplished artists.  


The National Gallery’s Big Art Auction 2, which raised funds to help with the gallery’s operational costs, featured work by a selection of Cayman’s most established artists. Their work had been on show for three weeks prior to the auction on Nov. 7 (as of press time, Weekender did not have details on the amount raised).  

In the last of a three-part series, Weekender chats with participating artists to learn more about their talents and the inspiration behind their works.  


The Seffers  

Renate Seffer’s artwork has featured her whimsical and bold artistic take on life for many years now. She and her husband, fellow artist Mikael Seffer, enjoy creating works of art together. Since opening their White Dog Art Studio in Breakers, the couple say they’ve found their work moving in different directions.  

“The vibe out here is very different, very calming, which I think is having a profound effect on how I’m expressing myself in art,” Renate said. “I’ve always loved watching birds, whether I’m out fishing, exploring the island’s interior, or just waking up in the morning to the parrots – there always seems to be this mutual intrigue: who is watching who. We had a visit from the white owl before the move to Breakers, and I haven’t seen him since, so his illusive image has been floating around in my head since, and seems to have inspired a whole new series of work. I envision these future works becoming a lot larger and bolder, transcending a more surreal reflection of my surroundings. It’s another creative journey, so I’m excited to see what transpires.” 

Mikael’s conceptual piece “Low Pressure” comprises mixed media light-weight concrete and glass and, like most of his work, the influence comes from nature: the ocean, earth, weather patterns and the forces of nature.  

“I’ve been working with concrete in various applications for many years and have always enjoyed experimenting with different ways to transform the material into an art form suitable for exterior and interior use, rather than just a structural element,” the artist said. “The techniques are very different to my previous works in resin, as the materials I’m using now are a lot more malleable and allows me time. The end result has a more tactile sculptural feel to it. I’m looking forward to creating more works in this medium as the ideas are endless – some of which include architectural features and exterior art.” 

Cayman’s seafaring past  

Miguel Powery, who painted Boat Yard, said his design strategy was to achieve an authentic and historical look for his paintings, using photographs of catboats and schooners as reference. After some sketches and composition layout, the balance, the format, the colors and any changes are decided prior to painting. 

A huge amount of time is taken up planning the painting, he said. “I prefer to coat my canvas with a soft yellow or creamy orange. I then sketch out the basic outline and start to lay down the tones and colors using acrylic paint, then I use oils to finish the final piece.” 

Powery said he is impressed by Cayman’s ship building and the high level of skill that was involved. “My work is an attempt to preserve this era that was so important in our history, for our sailors who sailed them, our captains who navigated the oceans in dangerous weather conditions, in unknown waters to bring home food and supplies for our people.  

“These are the times and feelings that I would like my paintings to convey and connect to the viewer my love for the ocean and the people of these Islands.” 


Inspired by nature  

Teresa Grimes described her contribution to the auction, “Barkus Birch Patch,” is a plein air piece from one of my evening paint sessions in my back yard at Barkers, West Bay. This scene was caught in paint as the sun was setting behind the mangroves, lighting up this stand of Red Birch trees on one of the sand hills running along the beach.” 

Grimes said usually she paints facing the water, fascinated by the thousands of colors – almost mosaic like – along the shores and roots of the various mangroves at this end of the island, but this view grabbed her attention with its shadow patterns in the sand and the play of backlight behind the tree trunks. 


Childhood memories  

Wray Banker’s painting from his “Ode to Milo” series is part of a collection that is a snapshot of childhood memories for most Caymanians and anyone whose life includes Milo, he says. In 1996 he designed the series to be four individual panels confined within the calmness of the large square format.  

“The proportions of each panel are governed by thirds, my favorite number,” Banker said. “Each new piece keeps in mind all the layouts combinations in the series. The larger “signage” portion of an incomplete Milo logo attracts attention and factors heavily into the overall design. The “O” for a cup, a can, the “I” and “L” the curves in the logo, sometimes draw or spell out references to subject matter. The three smaller icon panels with meticulously chosen items for a still life draw you in and tell you story with their intimate details.” 

Banker said he wants the pieces to be quiet and to reflect on the seemingly mundane situations and memories (a la Warhol soup cans) where he believes a culture dwells.  

“To date there are 10 paintings in “Ode to Milo” and without fail, anytime someone shares their story about Milo another brews,” he said. 

Banker said he is exploring artistically Cayman’s utilitarian creative past and attempting to fuse this with Caymanian contemporary fine art along with his signature pop style.  

“As convoluting and daunting as all that sounds, I’m told “wha don’t kill ya will fatten ya,” he said. 


A reflection of Cayman’s history  

Gordon Solomon’s contribution to the auction is a painting called “Boat Yard.” On the ironshore rests a schooner being dismantled, and the materials will be used to build homes.  

“Our forefathers used this method when they migrated to the Cayman Islands. Some of the relics of ships still remain today throughout our island,” the artist explained. 

Solomon said his focus of late continues to build on Cayman’s historical aspect. and he says he is deeply inspired by historical readings and archival photos.  

“I take great pride in expressing myself through my paintings, bringing into recollection heritage, culture and traditions of this paradise we call home,” he said. “There is a peace I find and hope to reflect in my artwork, whether it is a stunning sunset, an old boat, people taking an evening walk, fauna. Whatever it is, I pour myself into the painting. It becomes a part of me and me of it. Painting for me is not a hobby or pastime, it is my life, and I enjoy sharing it with others through my art.  

“Art helps us to connect with one another, and being connected is vital.”  


‘Boat Yard’ by Miguel Powery. ‘My work is an attempt to preserve this era that was so important in our history.’


Wray Banker’s painting from his ‘Ode to Milo’ series is part of a collection that is a snapshot of childhood memories.


Teresa Grimes, in front of her ‘Barkus Birch Patch,’ a plein air painting of her back yard at Barkers, West Bay.


Renate Seffer has been featuring a whimsical and bold artistic take on life for many years.


Mikael’s Seffer’s conceptual piece ‘Low Pressure’ comprises mixed media light-weight concrete and glass.