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Artists reveal Cayman’s cultural secrets at the National Gallery

A Day in the Life IV, the fourth in an in-house residency programme at the National Gallery, is a chance to see the complete process of creating an artistic masterpiece, from start to finish.

It features the work of three Caymanian artists, Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, Wray Banker, and Kerri-Anne Chisholm, whose final work was unveiled on Friday 2 September.

All three artists explore different aspects of Cayman’s cultural identity in strikingly different ways. Each artist has their own studio space and members of the public are invited to visit them as they put their final exhibitions together.

Kerri-Anne Chisholm’s studio is covered by photographs of people who live in the North Side community where she grew up. She has also many audio recordings of them speaking about their memories and these will feature in the exhibition.

“The name of my exhibition is going to be ‘Fragments of the Past,’ and it’s black and white photographs of older Caymanians displayed on the walls,” said Ms. Chisholm.

“For each portrait, the face will be divided into four sections and each section will be displayed in an individual frame. These four sections will be hung together to create a large-scale portrait.”

The fragmented portraits represent fragments of the past, from which Ms. Chisholm will be able to piece together a picture of collective experience and wisdom, a resource from which she feels she will also be able to learn more about her own identity as a younger Caymanian.

“Learning about where we’ve come from and how hard these older Caymanians had to work has helped me to appreciate my culture and heritage and see the journey we’ve been on from then to where we are now,” she said.

Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette’ Gullah Garden explores elements of African culture and language which have survived in today’s Cayman Islands.

“It all began with me taking a look at Cayman language -the words we use that people think are made up like “unna,” “ya,” and  “bobo,” she said.

I did the research, and these are African words, from the Ibo language -. Unna means, “You people,” Ya means “here” and Bobo means “Brother.”

The title of her exhibition comes from the Gullah people, African Americans who reside in South Carolina and partly through geographical isolation (some of them came to inhabit some of South Carolina’s coastal islands) preserved a large number of features of African culture.

“I found we share a lot of our traditional crafts and food that they do as well,” she said, pointing to some of the “yo-yo” covered quilt work which makes up one of the squares of a large composite work she is still completing. It’s something that features in the work of traditional craftspeople, such as East End’s Carmen Conolly.

“We’ve always known in Cayman there were African roots but we didn’t have any concrete information. Since finding similarities between our culture and Gullah culture, to me its one step closer to the original,” she said.

Wray Banker’s exhibition, Untitled, LOL explores the many and eclectic aspects of Cayman culture that interest him – ranging from making traditional games played here out of wood, to contemporary conceptual visual art.

His studio floor was strewn with varied material representing the many different ideas he is trying to incorporate into his final exhibition.

Hung on one wall was one of the “Milo” series of paintings – following the style of pop art pioneers such as Andy Warhol – that finds art in commercial objects, in this case a can of Milo.

But Wray is quick to point out that his art is never bound by technique or choice of media. “I work in a lot of different media, but the general public don’t know that, when they see me on the road they say, ‘Hi, Wray, are you still painting?’

“That’s why I like to see this, because people get to see that it’s not just painting that I do. For me what I get out of it is how I work. It appears to be really messy –but when you look at the final product its really sharp and tight.” He said.

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