Artists and art enthusiasts in the Cayman Islands regularly meander through conventional galleries like the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, Sandon Feat Gallery and the Kennedy Gallery, where they enjoy exquisite prints and paintings, contemporary sculptures, striking photography and provocative abstract work. But the visual arts can also be enjoyed at quaint cafés, corner stores and annual events where history, culture and the island life all intertwine to create masterpieces.
Begin your journey at the museums in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, where you can feel the intricate weave of a thatch basket made from Cayman’s national tree, the silver thatch palm, or peruse pillowy floor mats traditionally fashioned out of scrap fabric left over from sewing. Walk down memory lane while spinning a wooden top or gig, as it’s called in the Cayman Islands — when you visit with Deal Ebanks at the Farmers and Artisans Market at Camana Bay on Wednesdays.
Stop in at NIM’s Things, on Cayman Brac, where an array of local arts and crafts are available for purchase. And make time to tour Mind’s Eye, the 136-year-old home of the late Gladwyn “Miss Lassie” Bush, for a look at her cultural and spiritual artwork, which she painted on the walls, doors and windows; it’s an iconic monument of arts in the Cayman Islands. To explore our rich maritime heritage, Tony Powell’s Museum & Craft Shop at the four-way junction in West Bay is also a unique stop. Enjoy browsing Sea Monster Bones, boatbuilding tools and more, and pick up local souvenirs.
Every nook and cranny of Pure Art Gallery and Gifts on Grand Cayman is brimming with local art and crafts three-dimensional paintings, etchings, painted coral fan and pottery — making this a must-visit store for exceptional art. Don’t miss seeing the gallery located along the overhead pass of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. It features more than 50 pieces of local art that change regularly so each trip promises to be special.
Car aficionados might be surprised to find wall art of all sorts memorialising the automotive and boating industry hung on the walls of the Cayman Motor Museum, including paintings of early model Ferraris, restored B.F. Goodrich signs and some of the first-ever Coca-Cola posters. Devoted divers especially enjoy the underwater photo gallery at Cathy Church’s Photo Centre, as well as the original paintings and prints of blue marlins and sea creatures by the infamous Guy Harvey.
Discover the splendour of revolving art and photography exhibitions sprinkled throughout restaurant walls and other unexpected places, like the charming coffee shops Full of Beans and Icoa on Grand Cayman, where the exhibitions are changed monthly. Or pull up a chair for a vegan meal at Bread and Chocolate in bustling George Town amidst tropical paintings by resident artist Liz Halfter. Every two months, the collection on the first floor of the National Gallery changes; while you’re there, pop into the Dart Auditorium to view the most recent pieces from the Gallery’s outreach programme, created by persons within the prison service, recovering addicts and those with learning disabilities. The Farmers and Artisans Market at Camana Bay also have an array of one-of-a-kind paintings and crafts, like the ceramic or upcycled pieces by 3 Girls and a Kiln. In Cayman Brac, the Star Island Restaurant and Brac Reef Beach Resort have been known to display local works of art and pieces that can also be purchased at both the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman agricultural shows.
Artist, cultural and heritage expert and curator of The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Christopher Christian is an ambassador of all things Cayman whose life’s mission is to keep the island’s heritage alive through his work. His family has a rich seafaring heritage; his father, grandfather and uncles were often out to sea. Some of Christian’s fondest childhood memories are of swimming and fishing. The movement of the water — its graceful fluidity — often influences his acrylic paintings of Cayman’s traditions, such as his legendary “Bath Pan” series, illustrating a mother washing her young son in a large aluminium bath pan under a flowering shade tree. He particularly enjoys bringing to life memories of the early days in Cayman through modern painting techniques and colours, such as sepia.
Christian honours Caymanian culture and heritage with more than just his artwork. Cayman Traditional Arts, a organization he established to support cultural awareness and promote the islands’ heritage through workshops and courses, teaches children and adults alike traditional Caymanian pastimes like making peppermint candies and creating rope from silver thatch palms. As an extension, he established the Heritage Arts School Programme in 2013 for all Year 6 students within the public primary schools. This programme allows him to teach students their ancestry and the history of the Cayman Islands.
For many years, Christian also volunteered at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, lending a hand with new exhibitions and hanging the irreplaceable works of art by local and international artists. Through the National Gallery’s outreach programme, he also volunteered to teach art within the prison service and to troubled young men at the Bonaventure Boys Home.
It was through his volunteer efforts with the National Gallery that he secured his position as curator of The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, where he often includes the work of local artists. The Gallery, which connects The Ritz-Carlton seaside residences to the hotel via an overhead pass, ensures maximum foot traffic to the near 300 pieces that can be exhibited at any one time. It’s one of the most successful galleries in Grand Cayman.
LOCAL ARTISTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
An artist and musician, Randy Chollette is a major player in the art and music scene of the Cayman Islands and is a founding member of Native Sons.
a group of Caymanian artists who banded together to formally define art on the island. He regularly teaches Afro-Cuban percussion and “Aunt Julia drum style” at schools across Grand Cayman. His work has been showcased locally at Body Works Spa and the Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and internationally at exhibitions in England, Indonesia and the US.
Talented landscape artist Terry Grimes studied both classical archaeology and classical art before she fell in love with drawing while in Ravenna, Italy. Her vibrant acrylic paintings are best known for capturing the glow of natural light. Her work can be purchased at the Kennedy Gallery in Grand Cayman.
Gordon Solomon’s spots of light painting technique produces some of the most beautifully creative oil paintings, engaging the viewer’s imagination through the different colour patterns. He has also created several pieces using the cube-and- knife approach. Gordon’s collection can be viewed at Pure Art Gallery; the Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman; and Gordon Solomon Fine Art.
Nasaria Suckoo-Cholette is a visual artist, poet, storyteller, writer and occasional playwright and director. She thinks artists are the soul of any country, as well as the holders of secrets and pain and the beginning and end of revolutions. Her paintings of her religious upbringing, culture and festivals can be viewed at Body Works Spa and the Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.