2012 World Monuments Watch
Gladwyn K. Bush (1914-2003), known as Miss Lassie, was a visionary artist who left an important mark on the cultural history of the Cayman Islands. Born on Grand Cayman, Bush worked as a nurse and shopkeeper, and was 62 when she began to create art inspired by Christian visions and Caymanian seafaring culture. Bush’s visionary markings now adorn the interior of her house, which has been declared a Site of National Historic Interest, one of only six in the Cayman Islands. Mind’s Eye is a nineteenth-century traditional wattle-and-daub house, built by Bush’s father and grandfather, with a rear addition. Bush painted Biblical scenes and vivid, colorful abstract scenes on the doors and windows of the original house, as well as every surface of the rear addition and the outdoor kitchen, known locally as a cookrum.
Miss Lassie’s House is located on a white sandy shore near George Town, in an area now rapidly changing due to new beach-front development. Hurricane Ivan devastated the Cayman Islands in 2004 and destroyed Miss Lassie’s outdoor kitchen. The house was purchased by the Caymanian government in 2008. Today it is managed by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, which has brought together government agencies, private organizations, local businesses, and schoolchildren in a campaign for its restoration. The house opened to visitors in April 2011, but considerable resources were needed for its long-term preservation and interpretation. The site was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch in order to bring attention to this cause.
Watch Day took place in September 2012 and offered the opportunity to visit Mind’s Eye during the last phase of a restoration project that had started at the site. The day began with a tour and creative art exercises for elementary school students, and in the evening the morning’s artwork was exhibited to members of the public. Visit our YouTube channel to see some of Watch Day at Mind's Eye.
Since the Watch
A week after the announcement of the 2012 World Monuments Watch the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture pledged $500,000 to further assist the restoration of the site. After a year-long restoration effort in which the traditional house was stabilized and the interior painted surfaces were conserved, the house opened again in December 2012. An exhibition of original works by Miss Lassie was on view at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands through March 2013.