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New National Gallery Exhibition Explores Women’s Role in Caymanian History

Arts and Culture 19 Feb, 2020 Follow News

‘Island of Women’ installation image (Photo by Jim Gates (Blue Dot Studios))

Bridget McPartland’s work highlights the women’s suffrage movement

Maya Cochrane explores the tradition of ‘pinking’ in her work entitled ‘Pinking of the Sheets’

John Reno Jackson’s acrylic painting, part of a pair by the artist, addresses the themes of separation and reunion

A new National Gallery will examine the vital role women played in Caymanian society from the 1800s through to the mid-20th century, as told through the work of local artists.

The exhibition, which is supported by Butterfield, seeks to facilitate a dialogue around the story of the resilience, adaptive ingenuity and technical prowess of the women of diverse backgrounds who remained on land during the heyday of the Cayman Islands' maritime industry. Women’s contributions provided stability and ensured that the islands continued to flourish both socially and economically, especially at times of adverse conditions, such as natural catastrophes, or in response to the huge personal and economic losses that were incurred when men perished at sea.

The twenty six artists who were selected for the exhibition are: Marlena Anglin, Isy B, Dubadah Boldeau, John Broad, Randy Chollette, Maya Cochrane, John Clark, Carmen Connolly, Patrice Donalds-Morgan, Al Ebanks, Rosemay Ebanks, Meegan Ebanks, Kathryn Elphinstone, Horacio Esteban, Stuart Holmes, John Reno Jackson, Pamela Kelly, Peggy Leshikar-Denton, Charles Long, Sarah McDougall, Bridget McPartland, Tiffany Polloni, Lizzie Powell, Ren Seffer, Gordon Solomon and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette.

The featured artists were encouraged to include a formal research component into their projects and were asked to specifically consider the roles of Caymanian women through the following issues: individual and collective health; in the local economy, through the prudent and creative management of local and remitted resources; in relationships, with the men who went out to see for extended periods of time, and with the family, friends and communities on the islands; in faith and beliefs, formal and informal; and as keepers of communal memories.

Inspired by oral histories, archival material, family stories and historical objects, the resulting work covers a diverse range of mediums, styles and genres ranging from illustrative painting and traditional craft to video and installation work. Additional artwork from the collections of the National Gallery and the Cayman Islands National Museum, in additional to photographs from the Cayman Islands National Archive, have also been be included.

“The artist’s featured in this exhibition have each addressed our theme in different ways resulting in a visually complex and very thought-provoking exhibition,” says NGCI Director Natalie Urquhart. “While this is not a literal illustration of our history, the artworks provide a platform for a wider community programme that addresses the contribution that women have made to our modern society.” This will include panel discussions with community leaders and local historians, along with members of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association and representatives of professional women’s clubs on island, as well as special events for families and an extensive school tour programme that also explores the theme.

“Art has always had a unique ability to influence opinions and translate experiences over space and time. As a long-time supporter of the NGCI we are always pleased to provide our support and recognise the extremely important role art—and by extension the NGCI—plays in our community. We look forward seeing the exhibition and programmes, and wish to congratulate the participating artist and the NGCI.” says Michael McWatt, Managing Director of Butterfield Cayman.

The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 08 February and runs until 28 May and admission to the exhibition and related programmes is free thanks to support from Butterfield. For a full list of all workshops, lectures and events running throughout the exhibition please visit https://www.nationalgallery.org.ky/whats-on/ and to participate in the related school programme or book a tour, please email Maia Muttoo at education@nationalgallery.org.ky.

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