Artists honoured at Biennial Awards

| 11/04/2019
CNS Local Life
Minister for Culture Dwayne Seymour and National Gallery chairperson Susan Olde (centre) with National Gallery Director Natalie Urquhart (far left), awardees and Biennial artists (Photo by Carlo Lee/Blue Dot Studio) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

(CNS Local Life): Nasaria Suckoo Chollette took home the Bendel Hydes Award and Paige Jordison was honoured as Emerging Artist at the inaugural Cayman Islands Biennial Awards ceremony organised by the National Gallery. The event, held 10 April, was designed to formally recognise four of the artists – two winners and two runners-up – who showed their work in the “Cross Currents” exhibition.

The evening was also a celebration of all 42 artists who participated in the first-ever Biennial, said the National Gallery in a press release.

Suckoo-Chollette won for her installation work, Becoming Again (2019), taking home the award named in honour of Caymanian artist Bendel Hydes, to acknowledge his distinguished 45-year career

The winning piece “investigates the lifespan of traditional customs and speaks to the preservation of heritage”, the gallery said in the press release. Suckoo-Chollette created a traditional mattress made from the dried leaves of the plantain and plantain suckers to symbolise both the act of creating and using traditional domestic items that played a central role in Caymanian family life.

“However, by extending the bed posts, she transforms a humble functional piece of furniture into an altar-like structure – elevating the domestic to the realm of the sacred. The resulting work has a powerfully evocative, emotive spiritual power,” stated the press release.

Jordison’s piece ‘Who Ya Fa?’ (2018) earned her the Emerging Artist Award which honours the leading artist in the under-30 category. Her work explores “how family powerfully mediates individual identities in small societies such as those of the Cayman Islands”. In its description, the gallery said, “The main structure refers to Caymanian grand maritime history and highlights its significance as a site of collective and individual memory. The installation also involves a ‘message in a bottle’, which speaks to how memories are communicated across space and time.”

CNS Local Life
The Biennial Awards created by Horacio Esteban (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Sarah McDougal was runner-up for the Bendel Hydes Award for Tides of Changes (2019), which was one of the smallest works in the exhibition. “The delicate coral structure made from various fibres, using traditional textile techniques such as hand embroidery and tatting. It is displayed in a bell jar, much like a scientific specimen jar, referring to the need to value and protect our fragile natural resources. The work also celebrates traditional Caymanian material culture – namely, its important textile and fibre arts traditions,” the release said.

Brandon Saunders was runner up in the Emerging Artist category for his three-part series, Desdemona, Mallory, Avdimi (2018), a work considered to be the most experiential in the exhibition. “It seeks to engage with Western art history, and specifically the history of the formal portrait, by using an algorithm the artist designed, to hauntingly transform existing images from past centuries,” the gallery said.

The National Gallery established the awards for the Cayman Islands Biennial as part of a larger commitment to support professional development opportunities for the arts sector at large. The awards recognise the most accomplished work in each year’s exhibition – in terms of technical and conceptual strength, as well as originality. Both awards have been developed to provide much-needed grant support for artists at the established and emerging level. The Bendel Hydes prizewinner receives $5,000 and an invitation to exhibit at the National Gallery, and the Emerging Artist receives a developmental grant towards a residency programme or related training opportunity valued at $2,000.

The winners were selected by a five-person awards jury of local and international experts chosen for their knowledge of and commitment to Caymanian art or for their knowledge of the wider Caribbean art sector. The jury comprised Carl Brown (Cayman Islands), Leonard Dilbert (Cayman Islands), Dr Erica James (Bahamas) Eme Paschalides (Cayman Islands) and Dr Veerle Poupeye (Jamaica).

The winners and runners-up were each presented with an award designed and created by leading Caymanian sculptor Horacio Esteban.

Artwork by the four awardees, along with works by all 42 exhibiting artists, will be exhibited at the National Gallery until 6 June, at the Little Cayman Museum until 15 June, and at various locations in Cayman Brac.

For more information go the National Gallery website

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Category: Arts, Visual Arts

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