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Eco-friendly art show opens soon

Arts and Culture 29 Jul, 2020 Follow News

Turtle art at the National Gallery

Artist Kerwin G Ebanks

Shark art by Kerwin G Ebanks

The artist in action

By Lindsey Turnbull


A new art exhibition is opening on Friday 31st July that will give viewers the welcome chance to refocus on something other than the coronavirus for a while. Manavelins, a show by artist Kerwin G Ebanks, will feature a dozen 2 and 3-D works made from discarded materials that Kerwin has reimagined and brought to life. The opening night of the show will be hosted by Cayman Handmade Collective, with a reception starting at 5pm, and everyone is encouraged to visit.

‘Manavelins’, which means ‘scraps or odds and ends’, is an apt title for the show, given that the artist spends hours trawling the beaches of Cayman to find bits and pieces that have washed up on the shore in order to use them for artistic purposes. Kerwin says he has spent years collecting items and determining how he can make art from what he collects.

This latest exhibition has been born out of a collective motivation by a group of artists which includes Kerwin, all keen to promote the importance of maintaining Cayman’s environment for generations to come. The Trash Talks exhibitions last year saw artists Joseph Betty, Marcia Codner, Kaitlyn Elphinstone, Carlo Lee, Jessica Mittleman, June South-Robinson, STOAK’D and Marianna Szekely, in addition to Kerwin, join together with environmental group Plastic Free Cayman, to create art that would provoke viewers into thinking more deeply about the issue of pollution within Cayman’s environment.

“We had hoped to hold a third Trash Talks this year but then that was put on hold because of corona,” Kerwin advised. “So, I’ve been preparing for this show for a while, walking on the beach, collecting HTPE (plastics), cleaning them up and sometimes smashing pieces up into smaller bits which I then sometimes mix with resin or use in a mosaic.”

When Kerwin spots a piece of trash that he believes he can turn into a piece of art he says he lets the materials and the colours speak for themselves in terms of determining what he will make with them.

He said the recent find of a dead shark wrapped in fishing net by Kelly Gallagher Walker, who was paddle boarding in South Sound, gave him the impetus to highlight the plight of animals caught up in ghost fishing nets, which he then turned into art.

“The Department of Environment were able to go back to where the shark was found and were able to release two live sharks from the net. They then collected the net and gave it to me, so I decided to create a shark wrapped in net,” he advised.

The artwork, which will be on show at the new exhibition, is reminiscent of a similar piece currently on show at the National Gallery’s virtual exhibition, this time a turtle. Creating a wire frame, Kerwin said he then added papier mâché to represent the body of a turtle to make it a solid piece of art. The paper he used to create the papier mâché was itself made from one-time use paper bags from the grocery store.

“With this piece I wanted to send a message about the importance of responsibly disposing of fishing nets,” he advised.

“Nowadays, I walk the beaches picking up trash where I once used to pick up shells,” Kerwin said. “Today I’m selective as to which beaches I take my kids to, to try and avoid garbage that washes up. It’s really not fair to our kids. I want to try and preserve the environment for our kids and their kids to come.”

Kerwin’s beachcombing finds have been supplemented with additional items from organisations such as the Department of Environment, Plastic Free Cayman and Trash Talks Cayman.

Entry is free and complimentary drinks and canapes will be served at a series of Meet The Artist Nights. These nights are held each Saturday for the month of August from 5 PM to 7 PM.

Social distancing protocols are strictly enforced; as such a maximum of 45 guests are allowed for each night and by RSVP only. For more details or to RSVP please see Facebook event or email manavelins@gmail.com. As an added dimension, prizes will be available, as there are several interactive elements in the exhibition. Donations for Plastic Free Cayman's education initiatives are graciously accepted. The exhibition can also be viewed during regular business hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

The exhibition will run for the month of August and can be viewed during regular business hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

Cayman Handmade Collective is at Unit 6, 72 North Church Street, which is next to Digicel's waterfront store. Carpooling is encouraged.

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