A crate containing three historical paintings, donated to the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF), was opened at the Harquail Theatre on Saturday, 21 August 2021.
Flown from London, the artwork by artist Gladwyn K. Bush, better known as Miss Lassie, was gifted by American couple Lyle Lawson and Gordon Jaynes. Bought from the artist more than 20 years ago, the intent was always to have the paintings returned back to the Cayman Islands.
Minister for Culture and Heritage, Hon. Bernie Bush, CNCF’s Artistic Director Henry Muttoo, CNCF Board Chairman Martyn Bould, opened the special consignment, in the company of the Ministry’s Chief Officer, Teresa Echenique.
Simeon and Jesus in the Synagogue (oil on glass), The History of Cayman, and Let There Be Light (oil on canvas) now form part of the National Collection and are stored in a temperature-controlled room.
“I want to take this opportunity to give thanks to all concerned for the safe arrival and return home of what can only be described as three magnificent pieces of local art,” said the Mr. Bush.
“Such unique artwork, which the CNCF is holding in trust for the people of the Cayman Islands, is well worth sharing. The Ministry is therefore eager to support public awareness initiatives and exhibits, which will bring the work of our local artists to wider attention,” he concluded.
Mr. Bould, who first introduced the couple to Miss Lassie, said: “I’m absolutely delighted and heart warmed to see these paintings returned to Cayman. In some ways it completes Miss Lassie’s collection of which the Cultural Foundation is the custodian, and in addition, her house which is on the World Monument watch list.”
Speaking of the significance of the pictures, Mr. Muttoo said: “These paintings represent three key points in Miss Lassie’s life.”
The expert on the late visionary artist said: “Simeon and Jesus In The Synagogue is brilliant, perhaps her most ‘painterly’ work with a strongly religious theme, while also referencing her personal history. Let There Be Light, portrays Christ as the light of her life, while the third, The History of the Cayman Islands gives a pictorial chronology from Columbus’ sighting of our islands right up to the time of when it was painted,” he added.
Miss Lassie started painting at 62 years old and is widely acknowledged as “The Mother of Caymanian Art.” This latest donation brings the total number of Miss Lassie’s work in the National Collection to 140.
Her work has previously featured in the Carib Art Exhibition (Curacao) and both the Surinam and Guyana CARIFESTAs. The last major on-island retrospective of Miss Lassie’s paintings was at the Harquail Theatre in 2003.