By Lindsey Turnbull
Eleven local artists have all put their own inimitable stamp on a blank canvas for a new show launched last Sunday at the ArtNest collective. Called ‘Figurately Speaking’, the show is not your average art show as it has brough artwork very much to life, with each artist using a white plastic mannequin as their blank canvas on which to express their creativity.
Avril Ward runs the Awardart Gallery at ArtNest, located on McLendon Drive behind Foster’s at the airport, and she decided to hold the show having acquired life size mannequins that she thought would be a brilliant base for local artists.
“I saw these mannequins were for sale and I thought, what a great idea to do a show with them, so I phoned up a lot of artist friends of mine and artists I represent and I said, who’s in for doing a show? It was going to happen at the end of last year but things got a little bit busy, so it was put on hold. Instead, I thought it would be perfect for our next open day at ArtNest in early 2020,” Avril explained.
The exhibition includes 11 life size mannequins painted by locally residing artists. Avril said they decided to have no set theme or brief, except to say “use your mannequin”. The results, she says, are fun and fabulous, everything from collage, to paint, to resin, sand and a blow torch was used to coat the life size mannequins and turn them into figuratively speaking voices.
Artist included in this exhibition are: Al Ebanks, Sarah McDougall, Sue Howe, Avril Ward, Sarah McDougall, Ren Seffer, Maureen Lazarus, Cera-Tan Kennaird, Suvi Hayden and Loude.
Avril said the medium itself was fun to work with.
“Working on 3D is fabulous. It always brings another dimension that you are not used to. I’ve spoken to so many of the artists and they’ve all said the same, they had one idea, but once you start painting on 3D it starts dictating to you. It tells you, sorry you can’t do this, you have to go in this direction because you are working with shapes and forms,” she explained.
The mannequins started as completely white plastic mannequins, some male and some female. Without a set theme, Avril said that it freed up the artists to express themselves however they wanted.
“Some people have been quite dynamic, some people have sliced them up, some people have cut them up and done functional art and everybody’s have come out completely differently,” she said.
Avril said that what was interesting for her was that there seemed to be something of a central theme evolving from all the artwork, a need to display on the outside thoughts and feelings that the artists have on the inside.
“For example, Maureen’s piece is about being broken and actually having a cast on her foot and having a brick wall, about breaking down and coming back together,” she says. “I was really pleased with the artists’ results.”
Avril’s own piece is entitled Cosmic Man/Son of Adam and it’s were the mystical and the scientific come together within the human body, she advised. “I’ve got a lot of mysticism and science going on with the universe all combined into the body. A lot of thought went into that but I loved doing it. I loved having this opportunity to do something that’s non-commercial (even though they are all for sale). Again, I had a basic idea but as I was working it dictated to me where to go and what to do, especially with the shape of the human form,” she said.
Labour of love
Artist Sue Howe’s piece is called Keeper of the Past.
“All of her skin is made up of archival material from the Compass dating from 1967 to 1983,” she said. “It’s nostalgic piece. I wanted to make her like a super hero, protecting journalism in Cayman, paving the way for all the people who are allowed to do that these days. It’s for so many people who worked so hard bringing us the press before social media.”
Sue showed a special spot for Compass journalist Carol Winker who passed away this year, in the centre of the artwork.
“It was a real labour of love,” Sue said. “I was getting a little weepy looking at how Cayman has changed and remembering everything that’s not there anymore. We take it for granted but it really brought back memories. She’s a bastion for journalism,” Sue explained.
The exhibition will remain at ArtNest for three to four weeks and then Avril intends to take it as a travelling exhibition.
“I haven’t any dates finalised as yet, but we are hoping to take it Government House, the Botanic Park for Earth Day in April and the Walkers/Intertrust building. The great thing is that they stand alone so I don’t have to hang them They would look great in a big lobby in a hotel, for example,” Avril confirmed.