By Christopher Tobutt
Red Sky at Night, on the grounds of the Harquail Theatre is unique on the Cayman culture calendar. Where else can you see expressions of just about every single facet of human creativity, from paintings, to dance to music, storytelling film and drama? Produced by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, Red Sky is an incredibly popular anchor event for Cayfest, the Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts. There are so many artists and so many displays crammed into such a small space, it is really impossible to try to describe all that goes on. There’s traditional music, more modern reggae bands, solo musicians, and many different kinds of dance, offering amazingly energetic contemporary dance, Caymanian quadrille dancing, and classical ballet dancing displays. But the focus is always on the Caribbean, and really, the Cayman Islands. Taken as a whole, it is a showcase of what makes, and has made, the Caymanian spirit strong, always creative, and always ready to try new things and adapt.
Walking through all the vendors on the way to the theatre and live performance stage is like walking through a magical, enchanted marketplace. There, artists and local artisans and craftspeople show, and sell their wares. Mark and Matthew Ebanks – two artist brothers, had their beautiful, bright colorful paintings of all kinds of Caymanian landscapes, seascapes and wildlife on display. There were turtles, deep blue iguanas, blue and green parrots. The brothers have both been avid artists since their primary school days, and their work just keeps getting better and better. Rose May Ebanks learned the art of weaving silver thatch leaves into beautiful baskets, hats, and exquisite bags from her mother, and they were all on display. Further along you will find mixtures of traditional art & craft, mixed with contemporary ideas.
Tiffany Connolly is the owner of Piece of Paradise: “I do a range of artwork word work, I make resin coasters, caddies, and I make KY dominoes that can all be made in custom colors. I embed the Cayman Islands and its history into all of my pieces,” she said as she held up a lovely collage of a Cayman beach: “Its 3D effect because of the resin and I use real Cayman sand,” she said.
A very young and very talented musician, Sean Moran, 13, played two songs on the guitar. His style, a mixture between folk-classical fingerpicking and rhythmic strumming, was unique and beautiful, with thoughtful words and haunting melodies. His first song, entitled 2016, was all about his grandma who passed away he said, and then there was another beautiful song called Pink Sky. “When are you most creative? The MC asked him, “Late at night when your parents tell you to go to bed, or is it first thing in the morning on the way to school? She asked. “I don’t know but sometimes you get an urge to create things, so you start playing and it pieces together bit by bit,” he explained.
Mas Azúcar is a Latin-themed dance group, with high energy and high passion. They whirled and spun and amazed everyone with their energy, poise and grace. Next came Soraya and her dance partner, with Dances of the World. Again, it was a beautiful flurry of energy and passion.
At the back of the Harquail Theatre all the different food vendors gave visitors a taste of Caribbean food, as the smell of fish and fritters and frying festival filled the air. There were heavy cakes on sale too. And don’t forget the wonderful fireworks display that lit up the sky, making it not just red, but green, gold, blue, orange and purple, too. Red Sky, as usual was a real treat.