Born and bred Caymanian, Natalie Urquhart, is Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. We caught up with her to find out what keeps her on the islands…
Tell us a little bit about what you do
My role at the National Gallery involves everything from curating exhibitions and collections, developing programmes for the community and managing the facility, to fundraising events and working with local artisans for our museum store. It’s a wonderfully creative environment and every day is different.
How long have you lived in the Cayman Islands and what is it about the destination that you love the most?
I was born in Grand Cayman and while I’ve lived in several different countries, I always seem to be drawn home. The Cayman Islands mix laid-back island living with a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, which is a pretty unbeatable combination. You can literally be on a boat in the North Sound or on the beach fifteen minutes after leaving work, which is usually just in time to catch the sunset.
How do the Cayman Islands inspire you?
The sunlight and the vibrant colours of the Islands are a daily inspiration in my work, and the work of our artists. Subsequently a lot of the exhibitions I curate feature large format paintings in oil and acrylic. Our land and seascapes have also been a popular subject for artists over the decades – although increasingly they are moving towards abstraction, installation and conceptual work, which is an exciting development.
What is your favourite outdoor activity?
Boating. I grew up boating with family and friends every Sunday at the Sandbar and Rum Point and still try to get out there as often as I can.
Where is the best local hangout?
Anywhere with live music…
Are there any new openings in the area that can’t be missed?
The new Anchor and Den restaurant at the Marriott has a fantastic juice bar and creperie, which is pretty unbeatable for breakfast; The Bistro restaurant on Seven Mile Beach is rapidly becoming a new favourite; Abacus at Camana Bay has a brand new menu which is great; and The Brasserie always has something new on its dinner and cocktail menu that is inspired by whatever local ingredients are in season.
If you only had one day to show us the best of the Cayman Islands, where would you take us?
We’d start with coffee at Icoa before heading to The National Gallery for a tour of our latest exhibition. Then we’d head into George Town to visit the Cayman Islands National Museum which has a wonderful display and a documentary tracing the Islands’ history. Also based in George Town is Cayman Food Tours, who do a great walking tour of the town centre with various food stops. Next we’d drive out East via Pedro St James, stopping for lunch at The Lighthouse restaurant at Breakers or Vivine’s for a more traditional island lunch. Our afternoon would be spent at Rum Point swimming, boating and sipping on Mudslides (Atlee’s top shelf version). We’d end the day in West Bay at fabulous Calypso Grill restaurant. I’d also try and include stop offs at artists studio’s, which are slightly off the beaten track.
Have you got a favourite beach?
There are so many great beaches in Cayman that it’s hard to pick just one… If I had to, it would be Point of Sand on the Eastern end of Little Cayman.
How would you spend your perfect evening in the Cayman Islands?
Boating across the North Sound with friends for dinner at the Kaibo Yacht Club. If it’s a full moon Kaibo hosts dinner and dancing on the beach, otherwise head upstairs to their fine dining restaurant which has an elegant island atmosphere and a great collection of aged rums.
What’s your favourite time of year on the islands and why?
Late November, when the rainy season stops and the cool breezes roll in.