By Lindsey Turnbull
‘Tangled World’ has recently launched at the National Gallery, a beautiful show that features the ceramics of Babbity Barwick and the paintings of Linda McCann, both of whom have taken Cayman’s mangroves as their inspiration for their work. The show has been two years in the making and is an all-round sensory experience, also featuring video and audio of the mangroves, providing a fully immersive experience.
It is anticipated that visitors to the exhibition will find a newfound appreciation for the unique natural wonders that surround the Cayman Islands. Even though mangroves have been integral to the ecology of the Cayman Islands, they are constantly under threat from development, so Tangled Worlds seeks to shed light on the beauty of these often underappreciated ecosystems and raise awareness about their critical role in the survival of these islands.
Natalie Urquhart, Director of the National Gallery said they were very happy to showcase this latest exhibition.
“We are delighted to showcase this beautiful body of work by McCann and Barwick,” she said, “and through the exhibition, help to raise awareness about the integral role that mangroves play in our ecosystem. We congratulate both artists and look forward to collaborating with them, and other partner institutions like the Department of Environment and the National Trust - who are at the forefront of mangrove protection - on a thought provoking programme series in the coming months.”
Babbity’s background in design has influenced her creative work, and through various media, she explores patterns, textures, light, and colour. Using ceramics as her primary medium for this exhibition, Babbity incorporates “found” elements from the swamp, adding unpredictable organic qualities to her pieces.
She said she started getting involved with the mangrove as the “muse” for her work about five years ago when she moved to live near them. She spoke specifically about the Matilda Ponds in Patrick’s Islands which she called “an absolutely incredible place when you go regularly!”
Babbity said her walks through the mangroves on a regular basis had inspired her to make the mangroves the subject of her artwork and as a result she has produced some beautiful pieces. For her red mangroves ceramics, she explained how she carved their image into the clay and then they are pit-fired and come out completely unique, “but it kind of works, somehow,” she said. Her artwork also cleverly depicts the tangled mass of black mangroves.
Linda’s journey as an artist has taken her from Jersey to Dublin, where she has garnered recognition for her work. Being an accomplished painter, McCann has exhibited in various prestigious venues throughout Ireland and beyond.
She said she, too, was initially attracted to the mangroves after simply walking around them.
“It’s a very beautiful place. For me especially it was the light, the shapes, and the colours that you don’t expect. Initially it was this very visual thing that attracted me,” she confirmed.
Having been introduced to each other some time ago, the two artists thought it would be a great idea to highlight the mangroves in a joint exhibition.
Babbity and Linda hope that people will be motivated to go and see the mangroves from themselves to appreciate why they should be protected.
“The densest population of parrots live there. Hundreds of migrating birds come there every night to roost. It’s quite a National Geographic experience!” Babbity confirmed.
Tangled World exhibits at the National Gallery until 22nd February 2024.