By Christopher Tobutt
David and Kathy Quasius have been coming to stay at their lovely house North Side from their home in Wisconsin for more than 20 years In 1998 Mr. Quasius was just catching up on a few home repairs using concrete, when an idea struck him: “Maybe I could make a concrete turtle,” he said to himself. Sometime, not too long afterward, he started making more and more animals out of concrete, so that now when you drive along Old Robin Road all kinds of wonderful concrete animals greet you from his front garden. Some of them are normal-size, like the shark, the agouti the Mahi-Mahi (which seems to be jumping right out of the sandy ground as if out of water) or the crocodile (which is still pretty big, actually). Others are super-sized, like the giant land-crab and the scorpion, and the octopus: “I call it Jurassic Park, Cayman,” Mr. Quasius said.
Everything in the park is themed around Cayman’s wildlife, andthe only thing missing, really, was Cayman’s national bird, the parrot. Taking up the story, Mr. Quasius said: “I finally decided that I was going to do a Cayman Parrot. Then I got a call from Ron Hargrave the Chef from Tukka restaurant, and he said: “Dave I’m doing a parrot sanctuary and I would like to show you what I’ve been doing for the last year,” so I went there. His idea is to bring in the kids so they can learn about Island fife. It’s wonderful.” Mr. Quasius was only too happy to offer a pair of concrete parrots, perched on a concrete tree, to complement the two he is going to make for his park. Each pair is going to be perched on a concrete tree, “Probably an almond tree, because Cayman parrots like almonds,” Mr. Quasius said.
Both pairs which were begun a couple of weeks ago are nearing completion now. “The most important and time-consuming part is getting the metal armature, which supports the sculpture, right,” Mr. Quasius said. He makes the armature out of strong rebar, which he has to bend and cut to shape. On top of this, he uses standard metal mesh used for masonry finishes. “The first coat is a scratch-coat, then I finish off with one or two more coats of cement,” he said. The final coat is very carefully finished, to provide as close-to-life a texture of the real animal’s skin, or in this case, feathers, as possible. When I went to visit, they were still not finished, but were taking shape nicely. Mr. Quasius has also donated some nice sculptures to the Botanic Park: the huge cement Iguana which greets you when you begin driving down the park’s driveway is one of his, as is a lovely little crocodile emerging from one of the park’s many ponds. “I am going to have to find time to mend the Iguana, because it developed a crack during the earthquake,” he said.
“People ask why I do it, and I say, well its two things: I can often see families with kids coming here, and the kids love it. I call it Jurassic Park Grand Cayman because of course everything is supersize, and I let them climb around on the animals and do whatever they want. The other thing is when we are sitting out there, we get to meet people from all over the world. I have met a thousand people in the park, and they come and chat every day.”