'Knotted Baskets' (detail) by Kathryn Elphinstone

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is opening a new exhibition titled “Revive – Celebrating contemporary and traditional craft from the Cayman Islands.” Curated by Natalie Urquhart, with support from Kerri-Anne Chisholm, Jessica Ebanks and Simon Tatum, the exhibition showcases the best in Caymanian craft and features more than 50 artists from all six districts.

Craft and art

Works include a diverse range of objects by makers who are using traditional and cutting-edge techniques across many practices, including basketry, ceramics, textiles, fiber, paper, glass, metal and wood craft.

“Craft has a long tradition in the Cayman Islands,” says Urquhart. “Initially born out of necessity, functional crafts soon became highly decorative, evolving into our earliest tangible forms of creative expression.

“Today, the boundaries between craft and art continue to dissolve. Where thatch baskets were once purely functional, Caymanian artisans have begun to experiment with forms and decoration. This exhibition seeks to explore our evolving traditions and to connect our young people to these remarkable art forms.”

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Many of the featured artists seek to maintain and revive long-standing traditional forms, while others combine age-old techniques with modern materials.

“The connecting thread is that all of the featured work involves the hands of a maker – at their very root, the works of art are about process, technique and material,” adds Urquhart.

Through “Revive” the National Gallery will create a platform for discussions about the role that craft plays in this society and illustrate the ways in which Caymanian traditions continue to evolve in the 21st century.

In addition to the objects on display, there will be literature highlighting the individual artisans as well as agencies such as the Cayman Traditional Arts Council and Cayman Traditional Arts, which are working to preserve Cayman’s heritage art forms. The extensive education program accompanying the exhibition will include craft workshops, panel discussions, tours, and special events.

Horacio Esteban exhibit

Running in conjunction with “Revive”  is a solo exhibition by acclaimed sculptor and artisan Horacio Esteban, featuring his new series of three-dimensional works carved out of reclaimed cedar wood. The collection includes sculptures (large insects, birds and an elephant), along with functional items, again, blurring the boundaries between art and craft.

The temporary exhibition  ‘Revive – Celebrating contemporary and traditional craft from the Cayman Islands’ opens to the public on Saturday and runs until Jan. 2018. A special members’ reception will be held on Friday, Oct. 6, at 6-8 p.m. For more information about memberships, special lectures, workshops and family programs related to the exhibition, visit www.nationalgallery.org.ky.

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