A $10,000 grant from the Ministry of Tourism is helping to get an artist in residence program off the ground in Cayman Brac.
Simone Scott is co-founder of the Cayman Brac Autumn Heritage Festival and the first artist in residence. She said the program will be housed in Walton’s Mango Manor, which has been leased for the next four months.
Ms. Scott said the idea of such a program was floated just before the election in 2017, but the timing was off. It got moving, she said, shortly after she got involved with the Celebrate Cayman effort this summer.
The grant, she said, allowed her to pay for the Mango Manor lease. She’s hoping to use other historic buildings, which are not currently being used, as the program progresses.
“Mango Manor is just the first building,” Ms. Scott said. “I want to increase the appreciation for building heritage and increase the artist community.”
Mango Manor is designated as a historic site on the National Trust’s National Heritage Register.
The house, owned by Lynne and George Walton, is built on a foundation of ironwood stilts, with walls made of shiplap timber, and features a zinc gable roof. The porch is made of wood and red bricks.
The property, which originally belonged to the late Captain Reginald Kirkconnell, was rebuilt following the 1932 hurricane. Over the years, it has been used as a bed and breakfast, a rest home for the elderly, and a private residence. The house gets its name from its extensive garden, which features a wide variety of mango tree species.
Ms. Scott said as the first artist in residence at the house, she will be more focused on the business side of art.
“I’m going to be like an office manager,” she said, “and facilitate the programs we have.”
Those include a Saturday plein art group; a 7 p.m. Monday open art group that she hopes will be video linked with an artist group on Grand Cayman; a 7 p.m. poetry event on the last Saturday of each month; and the Bush Tea Cafe, which will be open for limited hours Thursdays and Fridays beginning Nov. 16 and have a small gift shop. The cafe’s offerings will include fever grass (lemongrass) tea, basil tea boiled on a Caboose monument and some good old-fashioned Caymanian swanky complete with china teacups.
A grand opening event will be held at Mango Manor at the end of the month, Ms. Scott said, but a date has not been formalized. She will be manning the house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, beginning Nov. 12, she said.
Next year, Ms. Scott said, she hopes to have things in place to have a more traditional artist in residence program where, initially, a local artist will be provided with space and a stipend for a period of time.
“My idea is to start next year and do a regional artist,” she said, “and move to an international artist in 2020. They would be living in the building we rent for three months or six months or whatever.”
In addition to doing their own work, she said, “The artists would have to interact with the community.”
She also plans on hosting and, eventually, generating traveling art exhibits, and broadening the program by networking with artists and art organizations on Grand Cayman.
She sees multiple avenues for expanding the program and its offerings.
“Every time I talk about it,” she said, “I get so excited.”