Tag Archives: Caribbean art

Blacktip Island Art Society Will Recreate Masterpiece Underwater

sand painting

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece ‘Guernica’ will be recreated on the sandy sea bottom near Eagle Ray Cove resort. (image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia)

The Blacktip Island Art Society this week announced a team of its scuba-certified members will recreate a version of Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ underwater in the sand near the small Caribbean island’s Eagle Ray Cove resort.

“We wanted to make a statement, show art is for everyone,” BIAS president Christina Mojarra said. “‘Guernica’ is one of the iconic paintings of the 20th Century, but no one we talked to had heard of it or knew who painted it. Our aim is to change that by creating a mural-sized line-drawing reproduction on the sea floor for swimmers to see.

“The painting resonates on Blacktip because it looks so much like The Last Ballyhoo bar on a Saturday night,” Mojarra said. “It’s touch and go weather-wise when we’ll be able to do it. We need a flat calm day with no surge and no current. That’s why we chose the sheltered lagoon down by Eagle Ray Cove.”

BIAS members say the project presents unexpected challenges.

“In practice sessions, the conchs destroyed our designs as fast as we could draw them,” Reg Gurnard said. “We had to round them all up and pen them well away from our work area. We also have underwater sentries to shoo away stingrays and eagle rays.

“It was a unanimous vote to declare the site a no-scuba zone for as long as the image is viable,” Gurnard said. “It wouldn’t last five minutes with divers kicking across it. The artists have all been picked for their buoyancy skills—one stray kick could ruin the piece. Folks are welcome to view it from the surface with a diving mask. Or a glass-bottom boat.”

Some on the island were critical of the project.

“I understand wanting to inspire a love of art, but this isn’t the way to do it,” Helen Maples said. “Disturbing that much sand will wreak havoc with the marine environment. And putting conchs in pens? Chasing rays? That’s flat-out harassment of marine life and needs to be fined, at the very least.”

Marine Parks officials say the project, though ill-conceived, is legal.

“It’s outside the park—barely—so we can’t do anything to stop it,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “I had a talk with all the BIAS divers about respecting marine life, but they were all so zoned in on their scratchings, I’m not sure how much good it did.”

Most island residents, however, look forward to the re-creation.

“I love to see things like this done with the wider community in mind,” Angela Fisher said. “We plan to take the little ones out snorkeling so they can watch the artists in action, maybe inspire them to do some sand drawing of their own one day.”

Eagle Ray Cove has created a special ‘Guernica’ cocktail to mark the event and will have ‘Guernica’-themed t-shirts, caps and other related items for sale.

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Beach Plastic Henge Is Blacktip Island’s Newest Attraction

beachplastic henge

The Beach Plastic Henge, formed from discarded plastic pressed into standing-stone molds, is Blacktip Island’s newest tourist attraction. The henge stands near the small Caribbean island’s airfield. (photo courtesy of Harry Wrasse)

A Blacktip Island civic group Wednesday unveiled what it dubbed the Beach Plastic Henge, modeled after Great Britain’s famous Stonehenge, as an alternative to throwing plastic collected on beach cleanups in the island dump.

“People collect tons of plastic off the beaches, which is great, but the dump’s filling up, and the stuff’s still loose for the wind to blow away,” said Art and Nature Society Of Blacktip president Harry Wrasse. “Shipping it off island’s ungodly expensive, so, using the we figured we’d put the one-big-pile’s-better-than-a-bunch-of-little-piles theory into action.

“We settled on the scale-model henge,” Wrasse said. “Stone Age Blacktippers built henges, so it’s a hat tip to them, and to the island’s heritage. And it’s aligned so the sun shines through it at equinox and solstice. Pretty much. I mean, it shines through part of it, anyway. We hope it’ll become a popular tourist spot for photos and such.”

Island conservationists applauded the structure.

“All that garbage packed inside those chicken-wire frames really drives home how much plastic is out there,” resident Kay Valve said. “It reminds people not to pollute. That it’s also art is just icing on the cake.”

Despite its popularity, the henge is still a work in progress ANSOB members said.

“Even in the frame, and with the sprayed-on coating, the stuff still decays in the sunlight,” Christina Mojarra said. “We have big ceramic flowerpots at the base of each stone to collect any plastic that falls. We’re still working out how to handle microbeads and nanobeads, but this is a start.

“A lot of the maintenance, going forward, will be done by school kids as part of their art class,” _____ said. “Well, school kid. Little Shelly Bottoms so loves to pick at the plastic and nibble the rough edges.”

Some island residents are not pleased with the sculpture.

“It’s not art. It’s an eyesore,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “It’s a big neon sign screaming, ‘Hey, look at our pile of crap!’ And right by the airstrip for everyone to see.

“Harry and them can pat themselves on the backs all they want, but it still doesn’t get the plastic off the island,” Pilchard said. “You don’t want to get downwind of it either. Some of that junk’s been in the ocean a while and had stuff growing on it. The smell’ll make your eyes water.”

Wrasse stressed that no marine life was harmed in making the henge.

“We only collect plastic from above the high-tide mark,” he said. “We’re not taking any living organisms from the sea.

“We have more plastic that we can handle just from that,” Wrasse added. “As more gets collected, we may do other famous world landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, the Coliseum. We’ll call it the Seven Wonders of Blacktip Island. And sell t-shirts and drinks.”

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Local Artists Display Blacktip Island’s Pre-Raphaelite Heritage


“The Mirror of Venus” has been reimagined to feature the Eagle Ray Cove dive staff in Marina DeLow’s “Narcissus at the Booby Pond.” The painting, and others, will be on display Saturday at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort. (photo courtesy of Yelkrokoyade)

Blacktip Island’s artistic roots will be on display this Saturday at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort for the Blacktip Arts School Society’s Neo-Pre-Raphaelite Art Show and Auction, with proceeds going to local art students.

“People don’t realize what a thriving arts scene we have on Blacktip,” show organizer Reg Gurnard said. “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood has a long, if underappreciated, influence on Blacktip.

“The Rossetti family often wintered here in the 1850s,” Gurnard said. “Dante Gabriel taught painting classes at the island school, and Christina first read her Goblin Market to our Sunday school children. Some say the tropical light and lush colors were an inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite style.”

Fellow painter Ginger Bass concurred.

“We try to stay as true as possible to the original strictures of the PRB,” she said. “Not copying, but rather, perpetuating their style and sensibility with a modern tropical flare. That’s where the ‘neo’ comes in.

“Rather than Lady Godiva on her horse, we have a Divemaster Godiva riding nude on a dolphin,” Bass added. “With her hair flowing strategically to cover any naughty bits, of course.”

Some in the community found the artwork objectionable.

“It’s smut disguised as art,” said the Reverend Pierre Grunt. “I mean, have you seen the ‘The Lady of Sandy Bottoms’ Herring Frye did? And don’t even get me started on Cal Batten’s ‘Ophelia and the Conchs.”

Others decried the paintings’ esthetic.

“This stuff was all the rage what, 150 years ago?” local artist and bartender Cori Anders said. “There’s nothing new about it. Never mind that the Pre-Raphaelites’ central tenet was to reject the commonplace and conventional.

“There’s so much contemporary art that better shows off Blacktip’s creative chops,” Anders said. “Just look at the exciting things Jerrod’s doing with flotsam and jetsam. And Dermott’s work with beer bottles? Words fail me.”

The show will feature a juried competition, and will conclude with the auction of all paintings.

“The goal’s to give back to our community,” resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “Folks get to enjoy looking at these pictures, then all the auction proceeds go to the kids. Minus expenses. Expenses can be high on Blacktip.”

The show will also feature Pre-Raphaelite-inspired poetry during an open-mike session preceding the auction, with any PRB-related works welcomed.

Victorian-era treats will also be served, including mock turtle soup, brandy snaps à la crème and fried celery.

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