By Lindsey Turnbull
‘Homegrown’ is a new exhibition on display until 31st March at the National Gallery, a collection of photographs by film maker/photographers David Hartwell and Bill Ferehawk, who have been working with the National Gallery and the National Trust, raising awareness about the beauty and importance of Caymanian plant life. The resulting exhibition is a series of plant ‘portraits’ that capture the uniqueness of local plants, familiar to Cayman residents, but given a character all of their own through the medium of photography.
The project is the latest in a series of collaborations between the National Trust and the National Gallery, designed to raise awareness about the natural environment and the importance of environmental stewardship, an example of which is the Blue Dragon Trail, a public art project featuring large iguana sculptures painted by local artists highlighting the plight of the endangered Blue Iguana.
Natalie Urquhart, Director of the National Gallery, said the collaboration with the National Trust on the project was a natural one, their expertise and responsibility for the natural environment making them natural partners for Homegrown.
“We are also grateful to the team at the QEII Botanic Park and Ann Stafford for their support,” she advised.
Bill Ferehawk had worked previously as a filmmaker in the Cayman Islands and was inspired by the uniqueness of the environment, which began a conversation about ways to collaborate with National Gallery.
“The result is Homegrown,” she advised, “which continues their multi-year investigation into the ways places and histories are marked and remembered place through a series of portraits of native and endemic plants of the Cayman Islands.”
The artists were initially invited to participate in the Gallery’s international residency programme, that has invited international artists, writers and curators to the island over the years to engage with the local art community and to share skills. This particular residency was designed as a skill-sharing project with local interns and photographers having the opportunity to shadow Bill and David on location, Mrs Urquhart explained, adding that they had hoped to bring them back to Cayman for a workshop series during the exhibition but the pandemic prevented this, however, they have continued the relationship via Zoom.
Laura Butz, Marketing Manager, National Trust for the Cayman Islands said: “Now, more than ever, it is vital that we preserve endemic plants to ensure the survival of biodiversity within our natural environment for the betterment of local wildlife, ecologically significant habitats and for future generations.”
She went on to say the exhibition beautifully captured Cayman’s unique native plant species.
“We are excited about this collaboration with the National Gallery and for the public to visit the exhibit celebrating the richness of our environment,” Ms Butz confirmed.