June 24, 2021

Mind’s Eye Miss Lassie

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CNCF staff and volunteers whitewash the traditional wattle and daub homeMind’s Eye prepped for traditional Christmas
The Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) carried out traditional Christmas preparations on “Mind’s Eye -The Visionary World of Gladwyn K. (Miss Lassie) Bush” on Friday 11th December 2015. The Heritage Watch site is also known as “Miss Lassie’s House”.
The “Christmas of Yesteryear” event is held to clean up the yard of the more than 130 year old wattle and daub home, but is also a tangible way to carry on an important Caymanian custom.
Done shortly before Christmas, the tradition served to prepare homes for the return of seamen who may have been at sea for months or even years. It was also a way to demonstrate pride in one’s home and community.
“Of course, we will need to pull bush in some areas, and tend to any areas of the garden that need our attention,” said CNCF Heritage Programmes Specialist, Lorna Bush.
Ms. Bush added, “This event gives us a chance to embrace Caymanian Christmas traditions and work together as any family would have done, to present our home – in this case, “Mind’s Eye”—in a beautiful way for all to see and enjoy,”.
In previous times minor repairs were carried out, and usually the houses were repainted with a limestone wash and walkways lined with fresh, new conch shells. The inside of the house was swept and dusted, readying it for the season.
CNCF board member Jason Gilbert & Lorna Bush backing sand“We will actually be preparing the mixture on site, mixing up the white lime and scrotchineal or cochineal (a type of cactus used to prevent yellowing) concoction, which will then be used to paint the outside of the home,” she said.
CNCF’s staff, including a new member of the Board of Directors, along with a handful of volunteers, early Friday morning, “backed sand”—which is the removal of clean white sand from the beach—to spread around the yard in front of the home; this was done using large silver thatch baskets as containers which rest on the person’s back, hence the term “backing sand”. The sand in years gone by was sifted on site, placed in little piles all around the yard and then spread with homemade rosemary brooms and rakes.
Christmas lights will also be put up with the hopes of drawing attention to the home both in celebration of the season and the heritage site itself.
CIFEC intern, Kathleen Helvester raking with rosemary broomThe CNCF spearheaded the movement to restore Miss Lassie’s House with the aim of preserving it as a national treasure; the home was opened to the public as a cultural heritage site in 2012.
Guided tours and school field trips are offered at Mind’s Eye. Contact the CNCF at [email protected] or call (345) 949 5477for more information or to book a tour.

About Miss Lassie:
A fourth generation Caymanian, Gladwyn K. “Lassie” Bush began painting at the age of 62, after what she describes as a visionary experience. Strong Christian themes run through her work, which she painted not only on canvas, but also on the walls, windows and furnishings of her home. Mrs. Bush was awarded a national honour, Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1997 and received the award during the Queen’s Birthday celebrations in Grand Cayman on June 15, 1998. She was also a recipient of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s Heritage Award. Her work is in private collections in England, the United States, Jamaica, South Africa, Germany and the Cayman Islands, and in the collection of the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Miss Lassie passed away on Monday, November 24, 2003 at the age of 89.
Photo Captions: (As provided)
Photo 1: CNCF staff and volunteers whitewash the traditional wattle and daub home
Photo 2: CNCF board member, Jason Gilbert and CNCF’s Lorna Bush backing sand
Photo 3: CIFEC intern, Kathleen Helvester raking with rosemary broom

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