Cayman Traditional Arts in conjunction with The Gallery at the Ritz-Carlton continue their long standing relationship by recently unveiling their latest art exhibition, entitled My Cayman. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks with each of the artists in turn to hear how they have interpreted their own views of Cayman into art.
My Cayman artists are some of the most well established and best loved in the Cayman Islands – Charles Long, Avril Ward, Jo Austin, Randy Chollette, Maureen Lazarus, Chris Christian, and Carley Jackson, and each have interpreted the theme in their own unique manner using subject matter, medium and form viewers can readily identify as each artist’s very own. There are 61 artistic pieces at this latest exhibition and so all are encouraged to visit and enjoy the unique art on display.
Past and present intertwined
Chris Christian is the owner of Cayman Traditional Arts and a prolific painter as well, whose paintings generally are inspired by his surroundings as well as his childhood memories of growing up in a much more laid back and rural Cayman Islands compared to the developed and often frenetic island we live in today.
As such, the themes of his latest collection do not stray much from his original inspirations, yet the passion and vigour of his latest work is clear to see and is exciting for the viewer as Chris too continues his artistic journey.
Some large and colourful abstract acrylics on canvas dominate Chris’s entry to the My Cayman exhibition, each with their mystery and mood to entrance the viewer. ‘Green Light’ relates to Chris’s childhood fun deep within Cayman’s natural habitat in West Bay’s bush area.
“I set this piece in the light of the morning, when it is still a little misty outside. It’s my favourite time of day,” he confirms.
‘In Time’ is another reflection of times gone by, with a perceptible Cayman-style cottage painted in almost surreal blue existence amid the angular high rise of the George Town of today. “In Time is an examination of how the Cayman Islands of old co-exists with today’s commercial side,” Chris explains. “You can just make out the tiny Cayman cottage amid the high rise buildings that surround it.”
‘My Cayman Cottage’ is another abstract-type piece of art which is Chris’s interpretation of a Cayman cottage. “I’ve used deep blues and darker reds than I would normally use because I wanted to convey the point that my memory of this cottage is not quite intact. It’s not a traditional interpretation, more the exploration of a memory.”
The background morass of lines and colours also indicate that the painter is trying to fathom out some kind of puzzle for which he is attempting to pull together all the pieces, no doubt a metaphor for the emergence of the Cayman Islands as a whole in the 21st century and its continuous jostling for an international positioning.
Conceptual art from the heart
Avril Ward is a conceptual artist driven by her passion of the moment: whatever emotionally charges her at a point in time gets transformed into a creative and eye-catching piece of artwork.
“I often do not have a reference point, such as a photograph or sketch; often my paintings and artwork simply come from within,” she explains.
Her talent for diversity and reincarnation seems to be on a roll at the moment with two enticingly delightful themes for her My Cayman exhibition, expressing a variety of emotions currently fuelling her endeavours. Bang on trend, Avril’s paintings always seem to incorporate the latest trends when it comes to her use of colour, theme and design. The first is a push towards big, bold paintings which depict in an abstract way themes and ideas, with paintings such as ‘Silver City’ depicting glisteningly illuminated city-scapes that use metallic paints applied with spontaneous freedom to entice and impress the viewer.
“The skyline could be of any big city but because I live here I associate this with the George Town waterfront skyline,” she says, hence the My Cayman connection.
Then there is the newest collection of sculptures that have given Avril so much pleasure and enjoyment to create. Ceramic creations are treated with metallic paints which are then coated with various acids to patina them. The result is an aged bronze effect and figurines of individuals are morphed into slightly fantastic shapes, sometimes elongated, sometimes with cartoon-like characteristics, all created out of emotion. Lovers are entwined, bound together by heartbeats cleverly structured into a sculpture entitled “Chemistry” while two figures look forlornly away from each other in her “Fall of man’ sculpture.
“I placed these into the My Cayman collection because they are about who I am living here in Cayman, they express my relationships – whether they are with my friends, my husband or with God.’ Avril says.