East Enders’ art store wins rave reviews

Wreck View owner Elsa Edwards gives Pedro Watler his purchase. Her son Matthew watches the transaction. - PHOTOS: JEWEL LEVY

Housed in a small building in East End is a treasure trove of local art, crafts and jewelry, run by the mother and son team of Elsa Edwards and Matthew McLaughlin.

Artist Ms. Edwards, owner of the tiny Wreck View Art Gallery opposite Tukka restaurant, specializes in recycled art.

Elsa Edwards with some of her handmade ornaments.
Elsa Edwards with some of her handmade ornaments.

Her art store started from humble beginnings when, after working for Pure Art in George Town for four years, she was motivated to open her own business with her son.

She says her artwork has always been inspired by nature and she is constantly seeking new ways to challenge herself.

“I started the business by making little dollies, paper holders and smaller souvenirs from my home to sell to the tourists. As the business grew, I looked for a place to rent but found nowhere suitable, so I ended up building my own little gift shop in East End some 12 years ago,” she said.

The TripAdvisor travel review website offers up numerous accolades about the duo’s friendliness. Reviews praise the shop for its authentic carvings, jewelry, conch shell and Caymanite designs, as well paintings by local Cayman artists.

To make her art, Ms. Edwards reuses and recycles. Her designs feature all sorts of natural and recycled materials, including conch shells, car tires, scrap cloth, local wood, pebbles and sand.

Lately, she’s been getting creative with tires.

“My daughter sent me a picture of a frog made from car tires and I became fascinated with it,” she said.

A number of wood carvings are on display in the store.
A number of wood carvings are on display in the store.

Outside the shop, creatures – including a frog and a snowman – made from car tires make for a popular tourist snapshot stop.

Next year, she has plans to build a tire cup and saucer and a tire garden in the front of the store.

Like some businesses on island, Ms. Edwards is still feeling the lingering effects of Hurricane Ivan 12 years on.

“I used to do a lot of ceramics but all my stuff got destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, and I am just slowly replacing it,” she said.

“My son helps me a lot and I am thankful for that. When he is gone, I just do my craft work and go to church.”

As for being her own boss, she says she does not have any regrets.

“I don’t miss working for other people one bit,” she said.