Selecting the winning entries in any kind of competition is no easy task, but when no theme or medium is specified, the breadth of work submitted makes the job that much harder.
The criteria for entering in the Ogier Art Award and exhibition were not exactly specific: all 2D and 3D fine art material, in any medium, was accepted. The only other stipulations were that they be original works, completed in the past two years, by Caymanians or individuals permanently residing in the Cayman Islands aged 17 or older.
The open-invite nature of the competition attracted members of Cayman’s thriving artistic community from all disciplines, and with the addition of a new prize for Best Emerging Artist in the 17-25 age group, the event opened itself to an even wider cross section of creative individuals.
More than 70 artists submitted more than 100 pieces this year, a significant increase on the 45 artists who entered in 2010.
The result was a richly varied exhibition, which included oil and acrylic paintings, collages, photographs, wood carvings, pencil drawings, multi-media and more. Established artists such as Randy Cholette, Gordon Solomon, Kaitlin Elphinstone, John Broad and David Bridgeman entered, as well as some relative newcomers.
The selected works were exhibited for two weeks at Cassia Court, in Camana Bay, in a space generously provided by Dart.
Peter Cockhill, managing partner at Ogier, said he was delighted with the number of entries received and commended the quality and artistic merit of every piece at the awards ceremony, held on Thursday, 7 July. The exhibition and competition is now in its second year and is the result of a collaboration between the National Gallery and Ogier. It was created as part of Ogier’s commitment to giving back to the community and encouraging new and established artists to keep up their creativity.
Prior to announcing the winners, Cockhill gave a special mention to Scott Swing, Debbie Chase van der Bol and Chris Duty, all of whom were shortlisted.
The prize for best emerging artist went to Breanne Carle, for Island Creature, a multi-media depiction of a peacock into which the artist had incorporated beads and feathers. The 19-year old floral designer was delighted with her $1,000 prize and joked that she would probably spend it all on art supplies.
First prize went to Hannah Cook for Rooster II, a highly detailed painting of a rooster and one of the largest works in the exhibition. Hannah, who had also entered two other pieces in the exhibition, has a long history of involvement in the arts although she only held her first exhibition on canvas in October 2010. “You never really expect to win,” she said, moments after the winners were announced. But that was not the only surprise of the evening as her partner, John Bird, received second prize.
Although an artisan by trade, Bird is more accustomed to creating bespoke furniture than pieces of artwork. Stingrays from Above, a stunning wood carving of two stingrays soaring over sand ripples, was the first artistic piece he had entered in a competition. Carved from African mahogany and maple, Bird says he used power tools, chisels and “lots and lots of sanding” to achieve the gleaming, smooth finish.
Cook and Bird have a multi-faceted partnership, sharing a workshop, artistic advice and practical help. “Our best creation though, is our little girl,” said a beaming Hannah.