Art for a green cause

Donated by Tortuga Rum Company, a series of barrels have been painted by local artists and high school students who drew their inspiration from the earth and Cayman’s natural environment and were recently displayed all around Camana Bay. Following the Earth Day Festival, the Department of Environmental Health is distributing the barrels around the island to be used to collect aluminium cans for recycling. They will be placed in high visibility locations including at the cruise ship terminals and on public beaches, in a bid not only to increase recycling rates, but also to present a green image to visitors who are accustomed to recycling at home.   


The well-known ching-ching bird, otherwise known as the Greater Antilles Grackle, was depicted on a barrel by local artist Wray Banker, while Fahima Leah Ahmad chose to paint a tree, part mangrove and part seagrape.  

Fahima is a humanities instructor at the International College of the Cayman Islands where she has taught for three years.  

She says: “I chose to paint a tree, part mangrove and part seagrape. It represents both the aquatic and land ecosystems here in Cayman. But the plant here is also growing aluminium soda cans. Soda cans like so many other by products of our consumption are littered in our beaches, washed up on shores. Here it serves to echo that image and also inform pedestrians that this barrel is for aluminium recycling.”  

Gordon Solomon used his extensive artistic background to feature a barrel titled earth: one world, one home while fellow local artist David Bridgeman created his barrel as a request from the Sailing Club. The image depicts a scene of boats racing on a breezy day. In the foreground are symbols of red birch trees together with a bluebell woodland from the artist’s home city of Oxford.  

Another local artist, Debbie Van Der Bol, says she was inspired by Cayman’s natural environment for her recycle barrel art.  

“The colours are all about our oceanic beauty and how it relates to our vibrant green landscapes. I hope the simple lettering inspires my love of Cayman to be used to recycle here,” she says. 

The Humphries family say their barrel was a true family effort as the children had been involved in every step of the process. “We were going to do a painting on the barrel but after two coats of paint the exterior was still too coarse. We decided on a collage using the environment as our theme. The children set about finding relevant articles in the newspaper and magazines. Soon they discovered that almost everything is linked to the environment – the weather, tourism, diving, fishing, what we eat … the list goes on. We then set about decorating the barrel with our cuttings. We hope that tourists will read the cuttings scattered over the barrel as they contain a wealth of information about our marine parks, the laws relating to the environment, maps, dive sites and points of interest,” they say. 

Children from Montessori by the Sea discussed what Cayman meant to them to come up with ideas for the barrel project.  

They further: “From that discussion, we thought of all three Islands and their native flora and fauna. Firstly, to represent our beautiful Islands, we included the National Flag and Coat of Arms on our barrel. We also decided to incorporate the ‘peace symbol’ which we believe is essential to life. 

“On Grand Cayman, we included things seen around the Island such as hibiscus flowers and the Blue Iguanas at the Botanic Park. On Cayman Brac we wanted to show the native ‘Rock Iguana’ as well as the beautiful banana bird. And finally on Little Cayman, we wanted to capture the calm and peaceful island through palm trees and the beach. 

“We hope that our project helps to contribute to the on-going care of our Cayman community. Together, we can make a difference in the world.” 

At Cayman International School the high school Studio Art class and the International Baccalaureate Visual Arts 12th grade class collaborated to create a recycling barrel that highlights the water and fish of the Cayman Islands.  

“Because water is such an important part of life and it is such a big part of the beautiful scenery of Cayman, our students wanted to focus on using the idea of water in their design for this project. With a mostly monochromatic colour scheme using the blues and greens seen in Cayman’s pristine Caribbean waters, students created an abstracted design to represent the clean waters and fish in the sea. At Cayman International School, we hope that everyone thinks about how precious our water ecosystem is to us and how littering can easily destroy life below the ocean’s surface. We hope that our barrel is used to help recycle aluminium cans so that the future children of the Cayman Islands can enjoy the sea just as we have,” they say. 

Artist Matthew Ebanks, 19, attends Sunrise Adult Training Centre part time where he painted the barrel under the direction of Ms Mary Fortney.  

“I researched on the Internet to get some ideas about recycling logos. I redesigned the logos by putting the Cayman Islands on it. I feel recycling in Cayman is necessary to keep our country beautiful,” he says. 

Students from year 10 IGCSE Art & Design group at St. Ignatius were all asked to submit ideas for the design and the school took ideas from a variety of suggestions.  

“We wanted to use the beach as one of the main inspirations of beauty on this Island. We chose to have it viewed through the trees to symbolise a hidden treasure. The students worked in small groups on various sections of the barrel,” they explain. 

The Earth Day Barrel Project was an exciting project for the Year 7, 8, and 9 Art students at Cayman Prep and High School. A theme about the ocean and the precious fish in the ocean around The Cayman Islands was decided on. Students looked at books and on the Internet at tropical fish, but every student had experienced seeing the beautiful fish they drew for the barrel design first hand.  

“Virtually all the students involved had either gone fishing or snorkelled and a lot of the students have their dive certification. They enjoyed discussing all the types of fish that they had seen during these activities as they looked through materials. 

Then they drew their fish using paper left over from other projects that would have otherwise been added to the garbage bin. The fish were painted using acrylic paint and then glued and lacquered to the barrel. Waves were painted on the surface around the barrel and sea grass was decided on at the bottom of the barrel rather than coral as the fish enjoy this plant material both for their food and for raising their young,” they say. “We also talked about how people often remove turtle grass and how important it is for the fish to live and thrive. The students involved in the project are very excited that the tins are going to be collected and they are looking forward to getting involved in more re-cycling projects in the future.” 


Cayman Prep school’s artists