Blue Iguana Recovery Program

Following the art of the Dragon Trail

Sep 30th, 2005 | By | Category: Blues in the Local Press

Cayman Net News Online

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Department of Tourism has produced a map to mark the Blue Dragon Trail; a collection of fifteen larger-than-life fiberglass iguanas, each painted by a local artist.

Former Director of the National Gallery, Leslie Bigelman, came up with the idea around two years ago.

At that time having heard about the Blue Iguana being an endangered species she realized that this could be a project that woul drawdrew attention to the iguanas, while making use of local artistic talent. She sought sponsors to make 15 fiberglass iguanas, and contacted local artists to paint them.

The blue iguanas, ‘Dragons’ as they have been called, have been placed at 15 different sites around the Cayman Islands and they raise the profile of two unique things that Cayman has to offer — blue iguanas, and its art.

Artist Avril Ward has lived in Grand Cayman since 2002. She is a self-taught artist, whose early career was in magazine layout and illustration. Her painted iguana, Betsey The Tourist, can be seen at Smith Cove.

‘I wanted to highlight the nature of the island, as in real meaning of the word ‘nature,’ and also the ‘nature’ of the waterfront of George Town, which is full of tourists; that’s why she comes complete with braids and Gucci sunglasses, her golden tan and her camera.

‘At the same time I wanted to make it really humorous to catch people’s attention so that they will read the plaque and understand how endangered the Iguana is. I am thrilled when I see tourists sitting on it and taking photos.

John Broad said he has not seen his blue iguana, simply called, ‘Blue,’ since Hurricane Ivan. ‘Maybe it is swimming in the ocean somewhere.’ It should be on East End public beach.

Blue is painted boldly in many different colours; it has a deep red head, a bright yellow foreleg, bright green sides and tummy.

‘I painted it different colours to camouflage it so it would go with any background,’ Mr Broad said.

Wray Banker’s Iguana, situated in Hell, has a red plastic life preserver around its neck.

‘Mine is about extinction; the Iguanas’ head is just above the water. The bottom of it is Yellow, like the yellow markings of a car park, and is supposed to stop traffic, which has been killing the iguanas.

The green iguanas are taking over so it’s got green feet, growing like weeds. It’s not called Poof the Magic Dragon, as written on the map, it’s called ‘We Kin All Go,’ because we can all go to the Iguana website.’

Hermes Solomon-Hydes’ Iguana, called Arti, is themed with endangered species.

‘I painted the Cayman National Bird the parrot, which is also endangered, on the left hand side and an alligator, which is also going extinct. They were found here once; it is where the word ‘Cayman’ comes from.

‘On the back of the Iguana I did an elephant which are also endangered because they are hunted for their ivory,’ he said.

Charles Long has painted his blue iguana blue, all over. ‘Some people tell me it is their favorite, one,’ he said.

Artist Luelan Bodden’s iguana, Missing In Action, is outside the National Gallery at Harbour Place. ‘It is to draw attention to my father who was lost while flying over Cuba,’ he said. ‘Nobody has ever looked into it. Maybe a tourist or somebody will start asking questions about what happened to him. I hope that it will be a lasting reminder, and cause somebody to ask questions one day,’ he said.

Avril Ward and April Bending are doing an exhibition at Breezes By the Bay, beginning on Friday evening, and the proceeds from the sales will go to benefit the National Gallery’s art outreach programme.

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