Public gets inside look at National Gallery

| 08/07/2015
Cayman News Service

Artist Randy Chollette views his work, Kings of Satwa, which is part of the NGCI permanent collection

(CNS): This summer, curators from the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) will reveal the inner workings of the museum’s permanent collection. They have converted the entire lower exhibition hall into a temporary research lab while undertaking a full evaluation of the artwork.

Visitors will have a rare chance to view more than 70 works of art and join curators as they assess the condition of each piece. The exhibition, sponsored by Susan A. Olde, will be held in the upper and lower exhibition halls and accompanied by events to engage visitors and raise awareness about the public art collection.

NGCI director and curator Natalie Urquhart spoke of the exhibition. “The National Gallery’s permanent collection lies at the very heart of our art museum. It is a remarkable cultural resource for our country and serves to illustrate both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of life in the Cayman Islands, as interpreted by our artists,” she said.

Incorporating a wide variety of media, the collection features 50 years of Cayman Islands’ art history from more than 60 local artists. “They provide the record of a growing country – from the mythic to the commonplace, the harmonious and the dissonant – as it defines itself in a rapidly changing world,” Urquhart added.

Cayman News Service

Untitled by Bendel Hydes

Collection highlights include the visionary markings of self-taught artists like Gladwyn “Miss Lassie” Bush; early work of realist painters who sought to capture the idyllic, nostalgic aspects of “the islands time forgot”; and work by the Native Sons and internationally acclaimed Caymanian artists such as Bendel Hydes and Davin Ebanks.

Contemporary works by artists who have ventured beyond idealised representations of nature to address a variety of ideological issues are also included in the collection.

“These artists are looking at colour, canvas and material differently and are refusing to be defined by traditional themes, using their art to explore social issues and techniques that are designed to encourage dialogue,” Urquhart explained.

Visitors to the All Access exhibition will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn about the history of the collection, the environmental conditions and conservation requirements needed for long-term care, as well as plans for increased interpretation and scholarship.

Handouts including activities for kids and information on how to care for private collections will be available to the public. Visitors will also be invited to engage in a series of study stations, which include learning how to complete a condition report (assessing the condition of an artwork) and researching collection care and management. A documentary that follows conservators working at the Smithsonian Institution, one of the world’s top museum complexes, will also be available for viewing throughout the All Access exhibition.

Cayman News Service

He Is Risen by Gladwyn “Miss Lassie” Bush

The National Gallery has teamed up with several students to assist with the research and development of the permanent collection this summer as part of ongoing efforts to engage the next generation of arts professionals and future collection custodians.

Emily Paige Jordison, who has joined the NGCI as the summer collections and exhibitions intern, talked about her work at the gallery. “Assisting with the All Access show this July has allowed me to see the processes of managing a national collection as well as the process of exhibiting at a prestigious gallery. Given this added experience, it will be beneficial to my studies in the fields of art management/studio art at university and I hope to continue my involvement with the arts in Cayman.”

One of the exhibition highlights is a new documentary, by young Caymanian filmmaker Ernst Jacob Olde VI, which traces the development of the national collection and highlights its importance as a cultural resource.

Olde explained, “[A]s the Cayman Islands suffer the effects of globalisation, we turn to art as a vehicle to conserve our cultural heritage. The National Gallery’s permanent collection is where yesterday meets today and seeks tomorrow.” The 20-minute film will be screened on a loop throughout the exhibition.

All Access opens to the public 13 July and runs until 3 September. An opening reception for National Gallery members and guests will be held 11 July, from 6:00pm-8:00pm.

For a complete schedule of screenings, lectures and education programmes related to this exhibition, email NGCI education or visit the NGCI website


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Category: Culture

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