Johnson Design + Architecture
PO Box 886 GT, Cayman Islands
KY1-1103 I 345-938-3828 I

2014 / Cayman Islands National Gallery Public Art Sculpture Competition

This open competition for a permanent sculpture at the front of the Cayman Islands National Gallery called for proposals to reflect the unique cultural identity of the isles. The site, a roundabout in front of the gallery’s main reception, is seen primarily as one enters or exits the art museum but is also experienced from multiple perspectives around the circular setting. These constraints along with the historical and cultural context of the islands provide the basis for this sculptural form.

Cayman’s boatbuilding past was once a large corner of the economy and several boatbuilding entities existed. Commissions were carried out for the Royal Navy and wealthy individuals abroad. Such boatyards employed a host of specialized craftsmen and builders who came together to realize these projects and their building expertise also directly influenced the local architecture. Master boat-builders were also commissioned to construct large public buildings of the past. In this theme, the proposed structure is engineered much like the master-builders of the past did with their structures but using today’s building materials and design tools.

Careful and controlled pouring of the thin white concrete sails with glass aggregate, give a light feel to the sails that shimmer in the Caribbean sun light. Recycled blue glass aggregate reference the blue hulls of the catboat once used to camouflage the underside of their hunting vessels from turtles. At any angle Caymanian images are invoked from the sculpture, referencing our country’s boat building past, schooners of our British colonial influence or even ship wrecks weathering their ironic fate away on the country’s beautiful reefs. While each sail represents one of the islands, the painted metal chassis, bracing the structure together, is a diagram showing the complex interconnectedness between them. Economic, government, cultural and family relationships exist and are a few of the multivalent factors that tie the isles together.

Collaborators / CI Sheet Metal / Bolas Engineering