Blue Iguana Recovery Program

National Trust Press Release

Jan 30th, 2003 | By | Category: Blues in the Local Press

P.O. Box 31116 SMB
Cayman Islands, B.W.I.

Tel: (345) 949-0121
Fax: (345) 949-7494

For Further Information Contact: Dr. Mat Cottam, Environmental Programmes Manager

Art@Gov’s brings Blue Dragon Project to life

The Blue Dragon project roared into life at Art@Governors this Saturday.

A joint initiative from the National Gallery and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the objective of the Blue Dragon Project is to place the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana centre stage as inspiration for artistic and educational works throughout 2003.

Art@Governors saw the unveiling of the first of many Blue Dragon projects, a giant jigsaw puzzle… 8ft high and 8ft wide.

Over the previous weeks, Jacki Ebanks, Education Programmes Manager for the National Trust, designed and distributed Blue Dragon flyers to Cayman schools, inviting participation in the project from students. The flyers included information about the project, a factsheet on the Blue Dragon (Cayman’s own Blue Iguana), and a picture for students to complete.

Only the head of the “disappearing” Blue Iguana was present in the pictures. Students were asked to drawn in the body, to help stop it from disappearing all together. They were also asked to sign a pledge saying that they would “do their piece” to help save the Blue Iguana. This qualified them to paint a piece of the giant jigsaw Blue Dragon Jigsaw at Art@Governors.

The response was wonderful, with many renditions of the Blue Iguana making a colourful appearance at the event. When asked to write what the disappearing iguana might be thinking, the students’ comments were very insightful: Spencer Moore, a ten year old student at First Baptist Christian School said, “Save me! Save me! Save me! And stop ruining my home!! We are very helpless and important!” Another ten year old, Giovanni Ebanks a student at Triple ‘C’ School said his iguana was thinking, “I hope I don’t get run over today.”

“The idea behind this Project is to encourage people to think about this wonderful and unique creature in a positive and inspirational context”, said Dr Mat Cottam, Environmental Programmes Manager for the National Trust. “The plight of the Blue Dragon is a serious issue… only 10-20 are thought to remain in the wild, and the National Trust is working hard to raise awareness and funding to address this situation. The ecology of Cayman is complex and beautiful. Rather like a giant jigsaw, many pieces are required to maintain its integrity. Lose just one piece, and the beauty of the puzzle is lost. Blue Dragon encourages people to think about what the Blue Iguana and the Cayman environment means to them personally, and provide a medium to express this through exciting arts projects”.

Activity at the Blue Dragon puzzle was frantic, as children busily painted and decorated the giant jigsaw pieces with paints and sparkles. Despite the large number of puzzle pieces, demand was such that some pieces had to be shared. A team of volunteers from Dart Management were on hand to make sure that the paint stayed, more or less, on the puzzle pieces. The staff of the National Trust fielded questions from the interested public on the Blue Dragon Project, and the status of its inspiration, the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana.

As the children worked, Paul Archer wielded an airbrush nearby, creating a stunning Cayman land and skyscape as background to the puzzle. Visitors stopped in their tracks, fascinated; watching as the scenery took shape under Paul’s expert hand.

At the end of the day, a large crowd gathered as a team of children assembled to put the pieces together. Starting off from the tail, and working upwards, it was not long before a step-ladder was called in to assist, as the Blue Dragon grew to it full height. The placement of each piece met with a round of applause.

Finally only one piece remained, the Blue Iguana’s bright scarlet-red eye. This was put in place by Blue Dragon patrons His Excellency the Governor, Bruce Dinwiddy and his wife Emma “Any ideas where this piece goes?” joked the Governor, as the last piece was popped into place.

Once completed, the Blue Dragon was an impressive sight. Standing 8ft high, it was surrounded by the backdrop of the wonderful variety of Caymanian art and craft on display at Art@Governors. Truly a wonderful event, and hopefully one that will be repeated for many years to come. Now that the event is over the Trust hopes to find large prominent areas within the community to display the striking artwork and showcase the plight of our Blue Iguanas.

Many people “did their piece” to get this project off to such a great start. Leslie Bigelman, Director of the National Gallery is responsible for the overall concept and management of the Blue Dragon Project. The Gallery also donated art supplies for the puzzle. Concept and construction of the Blue Dragon puzzle was undertaken by the National Trust’s Fred Burton, Director of the Blue Iguana Conservation Programme, and Mat Cottam, Environmental Programmes Manager. Puzzle materials were donated by Cox lumber, and Paul and Tansy donated their supplies and skills to the painting of the background. Home and Office City and Texaco were responsible for transporting the puzzle to and from the site. The Blue Dragon Project is sponsored by the Dart Foundation. A big thank you to all involved.

For more information on the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, please call the National Trust

Tel: (345)949 0121

Or check out these websites

Dr Mat Cottam
Environmental Programmes Manager
National Trust for the Cayman Islands

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