By the time this article has been published Miss Lassie’s House (or ‘Mind’s Eye’ as it is known) will have been opened to the public for just a few days, an historic moment for the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, which has been working hard in conjunction with many community partners to open up Miss Lassie’s world for visitors to enjoy.
Gladwyn K. Bush, known to all as Miss Lassie, was an iconic figure among Cayman’s artistic community, an intuitive painter whose religious visions caused her to create art with passion, often on anything that came to hand, including the walls, doors and floors of her South Sound home, as well as the hundreds of canvas paintings that adorned her small home.
Her visions only came to her in her 40s, but it wasn’t until her 60s that she began translating those visions into art work. Miss Lassie died at the age of 89 in 2003.
In an interview with Miss Lassie in 2000, Cayman National Cultural Foundation Artistic Director Henry Muttoo asked Miss Lassie whether she would ever be able to recreate a specific painting, to which she replied, “Well, if it do not come before my mind’s eye, then I cannot.”
Understanding the wealth of artistic and cultural significance Miss Lassie’s house possessed for the Islands as a whole, the CNCF made it its mission to restore Miss lassie’s home and duplex behind the little house to ensure that not only her artwork would be preserved for generations to come, but also for visitors to enjoy her prolific work and come to understand a little of her story.
Welcoming assistance from the community in its endeavours, the CNCF recently partnered with George Town Primary school in a bid to clean up the premises in time for its soft opening at the end of last month.
George Town Primary, under the guidance of Principal Miss Marie Martin, along with and CNCF staff members Henry Muttoo, Lorna Bush and Kaitlyn Elphinstone, worked tirelessly to get the premises ship shape. Most of the students that assisted were Brownies under the leadership of teachers Mrs. Jordan and Mrs. Smith-Rowe.
“The ‘adoption’ of Miss Lassie’s House (Mind’s Eye) is the first in what we hope will be a groundswell of goodwill by our schools towards the legacy of the mother of Caymanian art,” Muttoo says.
“Miss Lassie materialised her visions as an adult but she did so with the freedom and innocence of a child. It is most appropriate, therefore, that children should be afforded every opportunity to claim what is theirs; to be part of its restoration and preservation team as well as learn from Miss Lassie’s life and work, that adulthood need not rob us of our essential humanity.”
The school plans to make this an on-going project with clean-up maintenance visits at least once or twice per month as necessary.
Principal Miss Marie Martin says: “Learning does not only take place within the confines of the school campus but indeed throughout the wider community. It is important to the overall development of our students to instil in them a sense of belonging and pride in who we are as a people. The value of hard work cannot be overstated and becomes more meaningful when they are involved and feel included in the effort. This is a wonderful way for the parents, teachers, and students of George Town Primary School to give back to our community, whilst developing a feeling of ‘ownership’ of this very important project of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.”
Muttoo states: “On behalf of the CNCF board and staff, I applaud Mrs. Martin and the parents of all the children who will be involved in this endeavour and assure them that their lives will be richer for this association.”