An artist from New York, exhibiting at the Art Basel Miami Art Fair one year, was quoted as saying that, regarding art, the only thing that comes to mind with the Cayman Islands is sun, sand, and cocktails, how that image has changed today.
The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is now proudly hosting its 2nd Biennial. Private studios are emerging all over the island. Developing young student practices can be found in the centre of George Town, where real estate is being transformed into studios with groups of independent artists working together under one roof. Artists in Cayman Brac are also transforming real estate into thriving artistic communities.
More students than ever before are studying Fine Art overseas, such as Sculpture, Animation, Graphics, Photography, Fashion Design, and Ceramics, and they are bringing their talent back here to create. Art development and creativity is at an exciting all-time high and in a new state of flux in the Cayman Islands.
Mid-career artists are also thriving. Many hold down academic positions in art institutions overseas, attending residencies, or expanding their scope of practice by exhibiting internationally. Significant pieces of artwork are part of many corporate collections, including prestigious overseas collections, such as the Deutsche Bank Global Art Collection.
A good indicator of the beating heart of a country’s cultural soul is perhaps The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Here you will find a representation of the island’s foremost artists, both past and present. The National Gallery, located close to Camana Bay shops and businesses, houses two halls of exhibition space. The upper floor is dedicated to the National collection, which showcases approximately 40% of its collection on rotation. Temporary exhibitions are held on the lower floor together with a dynamic public engagement programme that offers the public a broader insight into the notions of culture and community. A third space, The Dart Auditorium, houses special events, lectures, screenings and serves as a community exhibition space, showcasing upcoming artists, experimental work, and solo shows.
To dig deeper into the artistic community and its activities, one needs to visit the artists’ studios themselves. Although it is not part of the National Gallery’s remit to represent artists, the gallery is an excellent resource. It will help pass on any details upon request after a tour of the gallery. Artists’ studios are scattered across the island, from West Bay to East End and in the sister islands. It can be a rewarding experience to connect with creatives, either in their homes or studios, and witness that there is a greater intimacy to be discovered than just the beach and an incredible sunset.