The sculpture garden at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is a serene gathering place for visitors as well as a permanent spot for artistic displays.
Running through the center of the lower terrace behind the gallery’s education center and the Art Café, visitors are treated to a pleasant overview of the garden’s park-like setting.
This is especially true when seated on the café’s outdoor patio, which is open on Friday and Saturday mornings for light snacks, coffee and tea, as well as for garden luncheons once a month.
Officially named the Deutsche Bank Sculpture Garden, the attraction has been created in a partnership with the national gallery and the global financial institution which prides itself as a patron of the arts.
An array of unique installations is on display, with many works by U.S.-based artist David Junguist. These have been donated by Susan A. Olde, who is a benefactor of the gallery.
David’s sculptures are made of white, pink or black marble with some twists on classical masterpieces. For example, his piece “Spirit Within” is a reproduction of Michaelangelo’s “David” and is meant to explore the theme of identity and what’s within.
Spirit Within by David Junquist
Other sculptures represent delicate flower pieces, such as “Rose” and “Orchid,” or are abstract pieces, including “See No Evil” and “Stone We Throw At Women.”
Another striking abstract water sculpture is “Sailboat,” which is made of steel.
Created by German artist Housi Knecht, it is from the gallery’s permanent collection, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Otto Model and presented by Andreas and Natalie Ugland.
The sculpture garden’s appealing layout was created by landscape designer Sandy Urquhart and encompasses a mixture of shade trees, plantings, crushed stone and grass. It also incorporates predominantly native, indigenous and endemic flora.
See No Evil by David Junquist
Leading from the parking lot to the gallery’s back entrance is an idyllic pergola with climbing Thunbergia grandiflora vines, which attract plenty of bananaquit birds. In fact, the entire garden attracts an abundance of wildlife, including herons, frogs, ducks and parrots.
At the heart of the sculpture garden is an events lawn which acts as a multi-purpose flexible stage. At the lawn’s edge, there is an intricate labyrinth with several smaller individual garden themes and sculptures, each section sponsored by philanthropic persons or groups.
We Throw At Woman by David Junquist
The 38-foot Dianne Siebens Labyrinth is named after the project’s sponsor, and is a universal symbol found across many cultures and religions dating as far back as 2000 B.C.
Crystals have been built into the circular, patterned structure, which is a replica of a Christian labyrinth from 1201 located in the medieval Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres in France.
The gallery’s labyrinth follows a single, non-branching path which leads to the center, and out again, and is designed to be walked as a form of relaxation and meditation or even just for fun and to unlock creativity, making it the perfect symbol for the gallery.
Dianne Siebens Labyrinth.
Pre-fabricated organic-shaped benches and lush landscaping surround the labyrinth, including an abundance of crepe jasmine trees and moringa trees, which are known for their medicinal properties.
Neem trees, which also have medicinal properties, are planted in the front and back-end of the garden; and on the outer perimeter are African sausage trees.
The sculpture garden continues into the front entrance of the gallery with a striking concrete-and-glass sculpture front and center. The 11-foot minimalist sculpture “Adjacent” was created by artist Davin Ebanks and won a national competition held by the gallery and Water Authority – Cayman in 2013.
Composed of a reflective electric-blue glass inset sheathed by two onyx-colored columns based on the form of a Caymanian half-model catboat, it ties the modern and evolving artistic identity of the island to its cultural past.
Adjacent by Davin Ebanks.
A blue iguana sculpture is also situated at the front of the gallery. Entitled “Being Blue,” it was created by Chris Mann as part of an island-wide gallery-led initiative involving the installation of larger-than-life blue iguanas around Cayman, created by various local artists.
Debra Illes-Walters, the gallery’s operations and facilities manager, says there are plans to continue adding sculptures in the coming years to attract more visitors to its “outdoor art gallery.”
The ultimate goal for the sculpture garden is to make it into a community space.
“It’s a beautiful public space meant to inspire and provide respite and inspiration,” she says.