The National Gallery Celebrates Maritime Culture in The Cayman Islands

By Tristan Ralston on 19th January, 2017

Osiris, digital photograph by Brandon Saunders

Osiris, digital photograph by Brandon Saunders

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands’ (NGCI) latest exhibition series, curated by Natalie Urquhart and sponsored by Butterfield, celebrates Cayman’s maritime identity – past present and future. Seeking to engage visitors and members of the public with the story of maritime heritage and national identity, the ambitious three-month programme runs from 20 January 2017 to 20 April 2017.

The project begins with a collection of maritime-inspired figurative work by local artists. On display in NGCI’s Community Gallery, Saltwater in Their Veins pays tribute to the men who went to sea and to the vessels they sailed. Works by John Broad, Randy Chollette, Capt. Charles “Chuckie” Ebanks, Horacio Esteban, Freeby, Miguel Powery, Saba, Alexandra Simonova, Gordon Solomon, Suzy Soto, and Monte Lee Thorton, highlight stories of courage, hardship, heroism, determination, and faith.

The second part of the exhibition series titled, Upon the Seas takes a contemporary look at Cayman’s evolving relationship with the ocean. Nineteen artists selected include, Shane Aquart, David Bridgeman, John Broad, Christ Christian, Bryony Dixon, Al Ebanks, Davin Ebanks, Kerwin Ebanks, Kaitlyn Elphinstone, Kathryn Elphinstone, Jamie Hahn, Bendel Hydes, Capt. Kem Jackson, Chris Mann, Elena McDonough, Yonier Powery, Courtney Platt, Brandon Saunders, Simon Tatum and Avril Ward. Working from a variety of perspectives – historical, cultural, economic, and ecological – as well as mediums, the works offer thought provoking insights and challenge us to position ourselves from solely observers to active participants in this evolving relationship.

NGCI Director and Curator Natalie Urquart explains, “As islanders, our national identity is intrinsically tied to the surrounding ocean. Historically it provided our primary means of sustenance and economy, while in recent years we have come to rely on a maritime-based tourism industry and the seaborne importation of our food and goods. The ocean is a realm of potentiality and a place of exploration, loss, and salvation. We are thrilled to launch this exhibition series and look forward to upcoming discussions and further explorations.”

 “Butterfield is pleased to support the Gallery’s latest exhibition which focuses on society’s relationship with the ocean,” commented Michael McWatt, Managing Director, Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited. “As an organisation that is based primarily in island locations, the Butterfield Group focuses a good deal of its charitable giving on protecting island environments; the ocean being the most significant beneficiary.”

Education & Outreach

The exhibition series is being held in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association, the Cayman Catboat Club, and the Cayman Islands National Archive (CINA) and has been made possible through the generous support of Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd.

Featuring a range of programmes and events, the programme aims to encourage the community to actively engage with the maritime culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands. The programme of events includes family fun days, film screenings, lectures, site visits, art workshops and an extensive school tours programme. Education initiatives will also include a community outreach programme where NGCI educators will visit school aged children throughout the districts to discuss maritime heritage and culture and work on creative maritime themed art projects.

A special Members’ Reception will be held 19 January 2017 from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. For more information about special lectures, workshops and family programmes related to the exhibition, visit