Botanical art exhibition focusses on Mother Nature

A report by Vicki Wheaton for The Cayman Compass. [Above: Mangrove Swamp’ by Margaret Barwick]

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is hosting a new group art exhibition, inspired by the lush tropical landscape of the Cayman Islands.

‘Terra Botanica’ (translation: ‘botanical land’) examines the ways in which artists have documented, researched and celebrated the rich assortment of flora in Cayman. The result is a collection of detailed sketches, paintings, watercolours and photographs designed to capture the wonders of Mother Nature.

The pieces featured in the exhbition are primarily from the gallery’s permanent collection, including new acquisitions not previously displayed. There are also artworks on loan from private collections.

“The diversity of plant species found in the Caribbean is greater than most tropical and oceanic regions, with botanic origin stories as complex as the histories of its inhabitants,” said NGCI associate curator Kerri-Anne Chisholm. “Artists have turned to nature for inspiration for centuries, both for documentation purposes and owing to its abundance as a source of subject matter.

“Given the vibrancy of our own landscape here in Cayman, it is no surprise that so many artists [represented] in the National Collection have been inspired to capture this beauty within their work.”- Advertisement –

Participating artists are Moira Abbott, Margaret Barwick, Scott Brady, Stephen Clark, Penny Clifford, Bryony Dixon, Bill Ferehawk, Lorna Griggs, Teresa Grimes, David Hartwell, Guy Harvey, Bendel Hydes, Martina Jackson, David Jungquist, Zane Kuttner, Eloin Lufthouse, Nickola McCoy-Snell, Hannah Reid, Helene Schindler, Larisa Sved and C.E. Whitney.Examples of pieces in the ‘Terra Botanica’ art exhibition at the National Gallery.1 of 8 

‘Seagrape’ by Lorna Griggs
‘Banana Leaves’ by Teresa Grimes
‘Poinciana’ by Zane Kuttner
‘Almond Tree’ by Moira Abbott
‘Violet Nightfall’ by Bryony Dixon

Each of the 40-plus works on display is accompanied by an interpretative label that includes information about the artist, along with the scientific and common names of the featured plants and their medical and traditional uses. This is reinforced by text panels throughout the exhibition which explore the history of botanical art and the evolution of photography, which ultimately replaced traditional scientific-drawing practices. In addition, a schedule of workshops, panel discussions and garden tours has been created to make the history of botanical art even more accessible to visitors.

While planning for the showcase has taken several months, the project has become particularly significant in light of the widespread destruction of the local landscape caused by Tropical Storm Grace.

“It’s a timely moment in which to celebrate the beauty of the natural environment and plant life of our islands,” said Chisholm. “Our team hopes the inspiring artworks will provide a space of solace and uplift for our community.”

About the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands
Established in 1997, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is the country’s leading visual arts museum, exhibition facility and education centre, charged with promoting and encouraging the appreciation and practice of the visual arts in the Cayman Islands. This mission is achieved through exhibitions, education/outreach programmes, school tours, community festivals, and ongoing research projects. Holding up to six exhibitions annually at its central exhibition space and satellite venues around Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, the gallery’s curatorial team strives to create a balance between exhibitions of quality Caymanian artwork and collaborations with artists from further afield. This is achieved by working with a broad cross-section of artists and ranging from site-specific work to more traditional gallery-based projects.

Admission to the gallery and the exhibition is free. Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm. For more information about the exhibition and the related programme of free events, lectures, workshops and tours, email education@nationalgallery.org.ky or visit
www.nationalgallery.org.ky/whats-on.

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