A sense of what Cayman is all about

Cayman Traditional Arts and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman have joined forces again with their latest art exhibition. ‘Water Sense’ features a slew of well-known local artists and highlights an exciting display of their own unique interpretations to the theme. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.

The Gallery, The Ritz-Carlton, West Bay Road, Grand Cayman has established itself as the perfect venue for artistic display; it’s length spans the width of the West Bay Road allowing for a wide selection of work and its location means constant viewing by the vacationers at The Ritz-Carlton.

The latest exhibition, which had its reception evening last November, is an important showing of some masterly artistic endeavours by many familiar artists whose work readers will know and love, as well as some surprises in the pot. A diverse and colourful interpretation of Cayman’s relationship with the beautiful waters which surrounds the islands, Water Sense features work by Al Ebanks, Gordon Solomon, Nancy Davey, Avril Ward, Sue Widmer, Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, Chris Christian, Renate Seffer, Patrick Broderick, Charles Long, Dora Williams and Jenny Palmer.

A detailed look
Sue Widmer is in her third decade living in Cayman and is a well known and much loved established artist here. Her work exhibited at Water Sense has a vibrancy and attention to detail that makes the pieces unmistakably hers.

“This is my very first show at The Ritz-Carlton,” Sue confirms, “and I’m really excited about exhibiting here.”

Generally regarded as a realist who has an incredible talent in catching detail in its minutest form, whether the detail is part of a house (she is renowned for her depictions of old Caymanian homes) or part of a portrait, Sue created a collection that was well received at The Gallery.

The Beach House is a recognisable example of Sue’s work, and is based upon an old Caymanian house that used to dwell in South Sound. Sue feels that her work in this area is of important historical significance for Cayman, as fewer and fewer of these old homes remain nowadays.

Her painting entitled “The Rum Merchant” features three salty sea dogs who really come alive with her use of vibrant acrylic paints painted on to canvas via a tiny number two watercolour brush.

Sue says, “I used to paint mainly in watercolour but I find acrylic gives you the best of both worlds – it thins down like water colour yet gives thickness like oil. The small brush that I use allows me to create the detail I’m looking for.”

Pirates in The Rum Merchant look so realistic that Sue admits a child passing through the exhibition stood and stared for some time, trying to work out if the characters were real or not!
Changing tact for a moment, Sue’s Wreck of the Ten Sails painting takes her work to a new level, while still incorporating a very realistic view and a detailed eye.

She explains, “I really wanted to push the boat out in this piece. I’m always looking for themes that are Cayman-related and so I thought it would be fun to explore the old myth of the Wreck of the Ten Sails. I could just imagine mermaids tempting the ships to shore and so I had my daughter Samantha pose for me (I even made her a mermaid’s tail!) and painted her in various poses. I finished the painting off with lots of nautical symbols, such as rigging, nets and lamps, and gave the backdrop a dramatic scene of pirates’ ships. I even called the mermaid’s ship the Cordelia, which was the name of the wrecked ship, to give it a level of authenticity.”
The result is a fabulous flight of fancy that holds your attention and draws you in to discover new elements every time you take a look.

A photographer’s view
Jenny Palmer is a photographer based in the UK and has been visiting Cayman regularly since 1992. Her book, simply entitled The Cayman Islands is an important body of work that highlights the artistic works of those who live here as well as her own photography. Much loved favourites such as Wray Banker and David Bridgeman feature alongside their work and the book is really a must-have for anyone who enjoys the terrific art work produced here.

Jenny says she was drawn to Cayman the minute she came here: “I was in the Cayman Islands in 1992 for a magazine shoot and fell in love with the beauty of the place, so I have been coming here ever since to photograph different aspects of life in Cayman.”

Her Water Sense exhibition features original photography that she has taken of the island, including an historically important portrait of the late Miss Lassie.

This is the second edition of The Cayman Islands and Jenny has also produced a similar book on St Lucia, now also in its second edition. Jenny has been touring Grand Cayman undertaking book signings to promote her book; however one look at her vivid photography at the Water Sense show will no doubt entice viewers immediately.

Read more interviews with participating artists in next month’s Journal