It has been almost nine years since Cayman residents were first introduced to the colourful Blue Iguana sculptures that reside in public spaces around Grand Cayman.
Affectionately known as “Blue Dragons”, they are receiving a well-deserved facelift this month at the National Gallery.
Launched in early 2004, the Blue Dragon Project was a collaborative effort by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and the Dart Foundation, designed to raise awareness of the plight of Cayman’s endangered Blue Iguanas.
Well-known local artists were invited to paint the 8 foot by 3½ foot fibreglass “blues” who were then “adopted” by local companies and individuals and placed in public spaces across the island. Each sculpture was accompanied by a plaque with information about the artist and the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, offering insight into the endangered species that is endemic to our islands.
Gallery Director Natalie Urquhart said most of dragons have survived well in the harsh environment, but are in need of a fresh coat of paint and a little tender loving care. A few have received more severe damage owing to their high-traffic location and the level of attention they’ve received.
“People love to climb on the sculptures and have their photograph taken,” Ms Urquhart said. “Not surprisingly this has taken its toll over the years so we are excited to be renovating the dragons and working with the Dart team to re-launch the project.”
Artist Nickola McCoy has been engaged to oversee the renovation process and has finished six iguanas so far with several others being painted by the original artists: Al Ebanks, Nasaria Suckoo, Chris Mann, Wray Banker, Charles Long, Hermes Solomon Hydes, Luelan Bodden, John Doak, Nickola McCoy, Tom Rittenhouse, Gordon Solomon, Christina McTaggart, Avril Ward, Tansy Maki and John Broad.
Following the makeover, the team will re-launch the Blue Dragon Trail Map, originally created by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the National Gallery to help promote the project. The map will include a full-colour brochure driving trail for both visitors and locals to follow while exploring Grand Cayman. The map will be available at the National Gallery, the Discovery Centre at Camana Bay, the National Trust and other locations around the island.
“Dart has always believed in the importance of the Blue Dragon Trail as a cultural attraction that raises awareness for our beloved Blue Iguanas. ‘Poof’ was the first sculpture to be restored after Hurricane Ivan and is now a permanent fixture on the island at Camana Bay. We are both excited for the trail’s relaunch and pleased to be able to assist the Gallery in creating an updated map so that everyone can visit Poof and his friends,” said Karie Bounds, cultural programme coordinator for Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd.
Until renovations are complete, 13 of the iguanas will be on site at the National Gallery and the public is encouraged to visit the “blues” or visit Wray Banker’s “Poof” on location at Camana Bay.
For more information please call the National Gallery at 945-8111.