Capturing Cayman traditions on film

Caymanian artist Aston Ebanks, known for his work in mixed media and large scale installations, was inspired recently to experiment with the audio/visual medium creating his documentary film on the 21st Century Cayman exhibition. The National Gallery’s Mona Lisa Tatum-Watler reports.
Continuing to hone his skills in this genre of art, Aston Ebanks took on the task of capturing many of the artists preparing works for the recent 21st Century Cayman exhibition, which is now on display at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. 
Aston spent a month visiting with the artists in their homes and studios allowing them to demonstrate their technique and discuss the inspiration behind the work created for this ground breaking exhibition, which includes the works and ideas of 24 artists.
The premise of the show paired contemporary artists with traditional artisans to come up with innovative products and ideas in hopes of creating a different way of looking at our traditional craft heritage and making the pieces relevant to today’s youth.
Aston used his tool, the camera, over this short period to capture the technique of past generations when creating such functional crafts such as Silver Thatch rope, baskets, vases and many of the final pieces which can be viewed at the exhibition.
Addressing the group at a special 21st Century Cayman documentary screening in March, Aston talked about his experiences during the time of filming, commenting “It brought a sense familiarity, a sense of community…of getting together.”
He hopes that the documentary will help to emphasise that the skills and methods of creating handicrafts here in Cayman are being lost and wants the younger generation to take an interest in learning these traditions, understanding that “it took working together to get everything done back then.”
Aston does a good job of using his moving images to highlight the journey from traditional and functional pieces of the 19th Century to today’s modern world.
The 21st Century Cayman documentary will be played throughout the duration of the exhibition, which ends 26 May. The public is invited to visit the Gallery to see not only the artworks on display but the film that connects it all.

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