C&J Blog Article


Grand Cayman art story

I've been meaning to post this wee story for some time. Since returning, in fact, from last month's trip to Grand Cayman. It's a tale that amazes me to this day. Here's the somewhat abridged version...

Colin and I spent one morning of our Caribbean trip in the Cayman Gallery Of Art, a wonderful non profit making operation that showcases beautiful paintings, photography and craft. The collection isn't for sale - it's all either owned by the gallery or on loan from artists or collectors. Anyway - the piece which I've posted here was created by a local artist called Ren and, whilst not typical of the kind of art to which I'm normally drawn, it stopped me in my tracks. It depicts a young girl. An innocent. A lost girl perched high in the branches of a tree. It was painted immediately after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan. 

The nest in which the girl sits is made of small pieces of text, each of which purports to 'home', 'safety', 'rebuilding' and 'being alive'. In spite of the storm. The look in the girl's eye stole my heart. Her fear, but her relief at being alive... it was all tangible to me. The bird (nature, perhaps attempting to repay humankind for the devastation it created) is helping the girl re feather her nest. In its beak is a piece of text that reads - 'I can help you put your home back'. As I stopped to stare 'into' the mixed medium painting, I was aware my eyes were streaming. I literally couldn't stop crying. Salty streams coursed down my face, as my thoughts were lost to the hurricane. It was all just so, SO 'touching'. 

Anyway, I'll cut to the chase. That evening, Colin and I went for dinner with our friend Victoria Wheaton who lives on beautiful Grand Cayman. As we chatted about our day, I recounted the art gallery tale and showed her the picture of the painting I had snapped on my phone earlier that day. Victoria's face dropped. "That painting belongs to my sister", she explained. "It's on loan to the gallery until she finds a buyer." You can imagine the scene. The painting had touched me - and that's what art's about, right? I was blown away by the coincidence. There are around 50,000 people on Grand Cayman. And one of them owned the painting, the very piece which had touched me earlier that day. And that one person was the sister of the friend with whom we were enjoying dinner. 

Victoria's sister, it transpired, bought it from Ren, the artist, but she was now looking to pass it on to someone who would cherish it. 

I asked Victoria to speak to her sister and the next day we struck a deal. Victoria arranged for the art to be collected from the gallery and delivered to our hotel. Now it hangs in our condo in Toronto. Entirely at odds with everything else in our home. But art isn't about colour, or buying something to match the sofa. It's about finding something that resonates. Something that 'touches'. This wasn't some wanton purchase. It was heartfelt. And the story of coincidence reminds me it was probably meant to be. 

Cheers for reading. I just felt this was a story that deserved to be shared. 
Stay well. I hope this wee update finds you hale and hearty. And safe. Wherever you are. Safe in your own feathered nest. At one. And at peace.

Justin xx


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