The work of up-and-coming artist Iain MacRae explores many thought-provoking issues such as politics and self-identity.

Iain MacRae. Image: Taneos Ramsay

He describes his art as expressive, but avoids being restricted to a certain style.

“It’s my way of voicing thoughts that are hard to put into words,” he says, “Lately, my pieces have been pretty politically charged because there’s just so much going on that needs to be talked about.”

Working under the name of Mac Rae, a recent focus of Iain’s work has been the socio-political landscape of the Cayman Islands.

“I’ve delved into mainstream topics that have consistently occupied the forefront of public discourse for as long as I can recall,” he says. “Things like minimum wage, public transport, community creative centres, gentrification, lack of preserving culture and heritage, and planning issues.

“While I don’t claim to have any political expertise, many of the proposed resolutions to these issues seem feasible. Yet, despite ongoing discussions, there seems to be a recurring pattern of stagnant progress, where talk often outweighs action, over and over again.”

On that theme, Iain had an exhibition at The Gallery in Camana Bay in December 2023 called ‘’, which is the website domain name of Cayman Islands Government.

“Conceptually, the show served as a tangible metaphor for our government website,” he explains. “Each artwork corresponded to a distinct navigation page, symbolising various sectors within our government.

“Each piece within the exhibit was marked by inherent challenges, and depicted numerous complaints, mirroring the issues I believe to be prevalent within our country.”

‘FMLY’. Image: Ryan Kirkaldy


Iain, 22, was born in Cayman to Scottish parents, who hail from the Gaelic-speaking Hebridean islands of Lewis and Skye on Scotland’s west coast.

The issue of his own identity didn’t arise until he became older and began noticing differences between his own upbringing and that of others around him.

‘A Caymanian born in 2001’. Image: Ryan Kirkaldy

“During my childhood, I predominantly identified as Caymanian, as my surroundings and experiences led me to believe that this was my culture,” he says. “However, as I grew up, I became increasingly aware of disparities within Caymanian society, recognising that my upbringing differed from that of many of my peers, for whom certain aspects of Caymanian life were unattainable.”

Iain began to question whether he was truly Caymanian or if his Scottish heritage played a more significant role in shaping his identity than he had realised.

“Ultimately, I perceive myself as a blend of both cultures, yet I cannot disregard the fact that my upbringing did not fully align with the typical Caymanian experience,” he says. “Through my art, I look to bridge this gap, using my work as a means of exploration and self-discovery.”

‘Another young Caymanian/mek yuh broke’. Image: Ryan Kirkaldy

Drawing on his Scottish roots, Iain produced a collection with the Gaelic name ‘Taobh Thiar De Na Cnamh’, which means ‘Behind The Bones’.

“These pieces depict significant historical figures who, despite their contributions and achievements, never had the opportunity to fully enjoy the fruits of their labour,” he says. “They are represented as skulls, stripped of the attributes that once defined them, leaving only their narratives behind for interpretation and reflection.”


Iain works primarily in acrylics, often accompanied by oil sticks, applied onto canvas surfaces.

“However, I love experimenting with different things, and seeing how many ways I can use them to create something they were never ‘supposed to make’,” he says.

‘Another young Caymanian 3’. Image: Ryan Kirkaldy

At school, he tried to take his GCSE art exam on a sneaker, developing a love for things considered to be wrong or imperfect.

“This really opened my mind and once I embraced that, I felt way more liberated in my creative process,” he says. “While working, I try to immerse myself fully in the perspectives I am portraying. This often evokes emotions ranging from sadness to despair, or any other sentiment relating to the subject matter.

“Given the political undertones in my recent work, these emotions often lean towards a sense of urgency and desperation, reflected in the rawness and imperfection within the pieces.”


Working as a full-time artist, Iain has been self-taught since leaving school. He has his own studio in a converted garage, where people can visit by appointment, and has enjoyed success at several exhibitions.

His work is also on display at venues including Carlos V. Garcia Gallery at The Grove, and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

“Having people come to a place dedicated to your thoughts, to listen and hear you, is incredibly humbling,” he says. “Knowing that there are people who want to listen to the things I have to say, or even just look, and paintings they find moving, makes me a little more whole.”


‘Gentrification Secret Formula’. Image: Taneos Ramsay
‘Bulldozer’. Image: Taneos Ramsay

This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of InsideOut magazine, now available at magazine stands around the island.