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All the coals we left in the fire

Arts and Culture 07 Jun, 2022 Follow News

Artist Nasaria Suckoo Chollette

Out in the Wash II/Secrets (2019)

Homegrown (2022)

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette’s first solo exhibition at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands


Leading Caymanian artist Nasaria Suckoo Chollette will open her first solo exhibition at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands on Thursday 10 June 2022. All the coals we left in the fire explores themes from Cayman’s past and present through a variety of contemporary art that includes mixed media painting, installation and video.

A member of the Native Sons’ collective and winner of the inaugural Cayman Islands Biennial Bendel Hydes Award, Chollette provides a powerful commentary on national identity and is unafraid to tackle complex issues such as slavery, colonialism and gender.

“All the coals in the fire honours things from our past that sustained us, or made us stronger as a people,” says Chollette. “The exhibition forages into our history to reinterpret lost treasures and past traumas in a way that deepens our human experience and understanding.”

An installation piece named Out in the Wash II/Secrets features three pans filled with water with scraps of letters, notes and newsprint floating on their surface representing the conversations and secrets shared between women on ‘wash and hang Wednesdays’ in days past. Make Ya Bed is an interactive piece made with sheets of plantain that invites current generations to participate in the traditional practice of ‘stripping the trash’ to make the bed.

Chollette also confronts issues surrounding mental health in society. In her Carnival Duppy series, which includes many pieces borrowed from private collections, she questions what lies behind public appearances and how lifestyle choices are judged by societal norms.

The exhibition is described as a mid-career survey following the national recognition Chollette received with her award in 2019, and features both new pieces and work produced over the past two decades. 

Exhibition curator and National Gallery director Natalie Urquhart will host lunchtime tours every month throughout the duration of the show.

“Chollette’s work offers a deep and multi-layered consideration of Caymanian history, including those aspects of our shared experience that have often been overlooked, or buried,” said Urquhart. “It is a meditation on the legacy of enslavement, on the role of women in Caymanian society, and the wisdom and traditions handed down from one generation to the next.”

Born in George Town, Chollette has exhibited widely as a group and solo artist, and her work is included in the National Gallery’s permanent collection. Her work explores themes of female strength and empowerment as well as erosion of Caymanian cultural traditions. She won first place in the McCoy Prize competition in 2006 for her painting Maiden Plum, and was awarded the Bendel Hydes award for her work Becoming Again in 2019.

Sponsored by Butterfield, All the coals we left in the fire runs from 10 June to 7 September 2022 and is free and open to all.  For a full list of related programming visit www.nationalgallery.org.ky  .  The National Gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

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