Chris Christian: Curator of Cayman’s Culture + Heritage

Artist, cultural and heritage expert and curator of The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Christopher Christian is an ambassador of all things Cayman whose life’s mission is to keep the islands’ heritage alive through his work.

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The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is one of the most successful galleries in the Cayman Islands [photo: JohnnyJet.com]
His family has a rich seafaring heritage; his father, grandfather and uncles were often out to sea. Some of Christian’s fondest childhood memories are of swimming and fishing. The movement of the water – its graceful fluidity – often influences his acrylic paintings of Cayman’s traditions, such as his legendary “Bath Pan” series, illustrating a mother washing her young son in a large aluminium bath pan under a flowering shade tree. He particularly enjoys bringing to life memories of the early days in Cayman through modern painting techniques and colours, such as sepia.

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Heavily influenced by his childhood in and around the waters of Cayman, Chris’ brush stroke often mirrors the fluidity of the sea, seen here in one piece of his “Bath Pan” series

Christian honours Caymanian culture and heritage with more than just his artwork. Cayman Traditional Arts – an organisation he established to support cultural awareness and promote the islands’ heritage through workshops and courses – teaches children and adults alike traditional Caymanian pastimes like making peppermit candies and creating rope from silver thatch palms, the national tree of the island. As an extension, he established the Heritage Arts School Programme in 2013 for all Year 6 students within the public primary schools. This programme allows him to teach students their ancestry and the history of the Cayman Islands.

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Minister of Education Tara Rivers and Chris Christian teach children the art of thatching baskets and hats, rope making and using rosemary branches to make household brooms through the Heritage Arts School Programme [photo: CaymanReporter.com]
For many years, Christian also volunteered at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, lending a hand with new exhibitions and hanging the irreplaceable works of art by local and international artists. Through the National Gallery’s outreach programme, he also volunteered to teach art within the prison service and to troubled young men at the Bonaventure Boys Home.

It was through his volunteer efforts with the National Gallery that he secured his position as curator of The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, where he often includes to the work of local artists. The Gallery, which connects The Ritz-Carlton seaside residences to the hotel via an overhead pass, ensures the maximum foot traffic to the near 300 pieces that can be exhibited at any one time. It’s one of the most successful galleries in Grand Cayman.

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Published: Visit Cayman Islands, 2016

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