Beauty in an underpass in Grand Cayman

Beauty in an underpass in Grand Cayman

Big, beautiful murals are appearing on building walls in many places on Grand Cayman. They depict faces, seascapes, boats and cascades of rainbow-coloured flowers exploding from a hundred different hues of green.

Now, there will be three new murals — combined into one long piece of public art — on the inside walls of the West Bay Road underpass.

Three talented artists — Tansy Maki, Marc Laurenson and Carlos V. Garcia — were approached by the Dart design team to execute this new work, which, when completed, will be seen by hundreds of motorists every day.

Designing a mural for placement next to a busy road required a “safety-first" approach, even in the matter of artistic expression. Dart wanted the design to be attractive, but not create a startling visual distraction that could take drivers' eyes off the road.

Each of the three artists was approached because they were already known for the style that the team had in mind. While the design, in its raw form, had already mostly been decided, each artist was invited to use their own techniques, as far as possible, to put their particular stamp on the design they had been given, making it their own.

Laurenson is known for his bold, contemporary take on the ’60s pop art style, very often using recycled objects to create striking original work.

His works include a portrait of Mick Jagger made from broken plastic toys and a large portrait of Jimi Hendrix using nothing but different-coloured bottle tops.

artist painting wall standing on scaffolding
car driving through underpass in grand cayman

Laurenson was asked to paint a design reminiscent of ’60s "op art," with big, blocked-in blue lines inclined in parallel at angles of 25 degrees, first one way and then another, to create an effect of a series of waves obliquely breaking onto the shore.

“It’s a geometric straight line mural,” Laurenson said. “I got the design given to me by the Dart design team, and then we were back and forward on the concepts they were looking for and what type of things they wanted. We got together and I said, ‘This is the right one, this is the cool design.’ They wanted something that is very simple, eye-catching, but not eye-catching enough to draw your eyes off the road."

Maki is a professional Caymanian artist, muralist and sculptor, and, well, just a creator of original artistic ideas, including the three large bananaquit nests she made for children to climb into at the recently opened children’s garden at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. While the scope of her work defies description because it is so varied, Maki is known for being able to capture the subtleties of flowing biometric forms, tones and colours.

“I had the pleasure of painting the large east section of the coral graphic design on the ocean side of the underpass for Dart," she said. "The graphic style coral design was supplied by the Dart design team and I reproduced it on the specified area."

Garcia is possibly the only painter of the three who, since beginning work as an artist in 2008, has concentrated almost exclusively on murals. His work can be seen all across the island, from the front of the Turtle Centre in West Bay to the Morritt’s Tortuga Club lobby in East End and the Lighthouse School in Red Bay, along with several others on Grand Cayman.

Garcia is painting a design produced by Dart creative artist Keri Lawrence that will cover several thousand square feet of concrete in big, colourful tropical flowers — oranges, reds, purples, yellows and whites emerge from lush foliage in many different shades and gradients of green. Lawrence's design was inspired by the "Focus on Flora" book published by Dart last year that highlighted many species of plants growing at Camana Bay. That book was itself inspired by the monthly "Focus on Flora" articles that appear in Camana Bay Times.

Although the book and articles cover a range of plants, Lawrence focused on flowers for her design.

"I narrowed down my selection to four different flowers, drew them all in different angles and then rearranged the composition until I found an appealing way to best fit the space," she said.

This article originally appeared in the May 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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