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Blog Home > Author > Julian Watkins
Julian Watkins
Julian was born in the Midwest but has a huge heart for island life. He is very excited to be contributing to the Christopher Columbus blog. 

Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture Garden consists of more than twenty super-sized concrete animals. Located on the north side of the island, this drive-up tourist attraction is a great place to take photos with the family—kids absolutely love it. We recently had the opportunity to chat with the man behind the park, David Quasius.

Originally from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, David and his wife Kathy began visiting the island about twenty years ago when they inherited a beach house. The Concrete Sculpture Garden started off as a personal project to keep David busy. He started creating a small sculpture for their garden each year for their personal enjoyment. In 2010, David and his friend Leo Verrett, an artist from Minnesota, decided to make a larger blue iguana sculpture named Ivana the Iguana for the front yard. Once that piece was completed, it started to gain some attention. “People started stopping and I’d go out to chat. I was hooked,” David says. Shortly thereafter, David moved all of the small pieces out into the yard and, as they say, the rest is history.

Since then, David has created a new piece to add to the park each year. Most of these sculptures are of animals that are native to Cayman. When asked about his inspiration, he said he wants to find Cayman animals that appeal to kids. David says that his biggest joy in creating the Sculpture Garden is the sounds of the children laughing in the park. He loves seeing parents and grandparents snapping pictures of the kids with his creations. “To have this happening in your front yard is very neat,” says David.



Today, the Sculpture Park has multiplied and is home to many large concrete sculptures. A few of the sculptures you will see are Finley the mahi-mahi, Henrietta the chicken, and Clawdette the crab (our favorite). David has created a haven for photo opportunities. For example, when he created his newest concrete shark, Sharkie III, he added a concrete inner tube as a prop for a more interesting picture. His goal is to make the park more interactive and a fun place for families to visit.

When asked about his training and how he learned to make these amazing sculptures, David explained that he is a self-taught artist. He says that he comes from an artistic family and they exposed him to making concrete sculptures. His sister is a professional artist, and he learned some of his techniques working on family art projects. Being such an amazing artist, we were surprised to find out that David is actually a retired CPA!

David enjoys the complexities of creating the sculptures. “Each one has its own problems to solve,” says David. For example, he had to figure out how to attach 400 suckers to his giant octopus. We tried to get him to choose his favorite sculpture, but he just couldn’t. He did say that if he could only take four back to Wisconsin with him, it would be the crab, octopus, blue iguana, and the crocodile. With so much work going into each piece, it must be hard to choose a favorite. 

Each sculpture that David creates takes anywhere from six to eight weeks to complete, and the process is fascinating. David starts building each sculpture with an armature made of metal rebar, which he then wraps in a metal mesh. This gives the sculpture its basic shape and acts as a skeleton. Designing the armature is the most important part of the sculpture since the concrete cannot take shape without an armature. When creating a sculpture, David says that most of his time is spent on this step. Once the armature has been completed, it is time to add the mortar and put the finishing touches on the sculpture. Two layers of mortar are added with an additional finishing coat. David even has tutorials on YouTube showing how he creates these masterpieces (here's one about the scorpion!).


Claudette in all her glory.

Since his first visit to Cayman 20 years ago, David says he's loved the whole island, but has an extra special place in his heart for the north side. He describes it as a place where everyone knows everyone, there is very little traffic, and no roundabouts. While the north side may not have all your typical tourist attractions, they do have a really cool sculpture park!

For his next project, David plans to create a sculpture of the national bird, the Cayman parrot. If you stop by to visit the park this winter, you might be able to catch up with David and his wife, Kathy. Since their house is on the property, David and Kathy usually step out to visit when they hear a car door slam or hear children laughing. They love meeting both locals and visitors to the island.

Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture Garden is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it’s free! If you are looking for some really cool photo opportunities, stop by for a visit. You can find more information about David and the park on his website.

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If you’ve ever been to the Cayman Islands National Museum, you have seen the incredible exhibits and experienced the history of Cayman. Meet Brian Watler Jr, the man who is responsible for designing these amazing exhibits.

Brian Watler Jr. was born and raised in Cayman. His family has been living in Cayman for many generations spanning back to his great-great grandparents and beyond. Brian says his favorite thing about the island is the culture. When describing the culture, Brian stated, “We have a way of doing and saying things that is so unique. Every single district has its own ‘accent’; you can tell if someone grew up in North Side or George Town just by their accent. You can even tell if someone’s from Cayman Brac or Grand Cayman by their accent. For such a small island, the culture is extremely unique.” He has been able to turn his passion for the culture into a career working as a PR/Media and Design Specialist for the National Museum.

Brian describes the National Museum as the living connection to Cayman’s past. His view is that the museum allows current and future generations to experience the island’s unique cultural heritage. With a passion for both design and culture, Brian can think of no better fit for a career than the National Museum.

Brian’s journey with the National Museum began in 2015 when he interned for the museum to design their 25th Anniversary logo. They were so pleased with the design that they brought him on board to design the 25th Anniversary exhibition and publication. Since then, Brian has taken on his current role where he works to create press releases, update the museum’s social media and website, and other PR-related activities. However, his favorite part of the job is getting to use his design skills to create a cultural and historical experience for museum visitors. Brian says that while most people with a degree in graphic design get to design flyers and brochures, he gets to design exhibits!

Last year, the museum installed an exhibition titled, “Cayman Airways: Celebrating 50 Years of Our National Airline.” Designing this exhibition was extremely enjoyable for Brian. As a child, he always had dreams of becoming a pilot, and he still owns a collection of airplane models, a few of which are Cayman Airway custom-made models. Most of all, Brian enjoys the interactive nature of this exhibit. “What I really enjoy most about the exhibition is the exterior airplane fuselage—it’s as if you’re boarding the aircraft—then you enter the gallery and see this fascinating display of airplane models ‘flying’ in the case.” This exhibit gives an in-depth look into the history of Cayman aviation from its humble beginnings to now employing over 400 employees.

Not only does Brian design amazing exhibits for the museum, he also teaches Quadrille (Cayman’s traditional dance) to students at Edna M. Moyle Primary School. This is his second group that he has worked with to teach Quadrille. His first group of students won a Gold award at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts in 2012. In his free time, Brian is actively involved in helping out in his community and church. He loves to photograph the island and visit with the elders in his community to hear their stories. Brian’s passion for Cayman culture and his community is obvious. He is even going back to get his Master’s Degree in Marketing: Digital Marketing and Advertising since his work for the museum is so closely related to marketing.

With his passion and knowledge, we had to ask Brian what other activities were a must-do for Cayman visitors. He recommends Pedro St. James Castle, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Cayman Crystal Caves and Cayman Turtle Centre. He believes all of these institutions are vital to understanding Cayman culture.

The next time you are on island, make sure to stop by the National Museum and learn more about the culture of Cayman and see some of Brian’s work!

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We can all agree that Cayman is a beautiful island with so much history and such amazing sights and wildlife. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands was established to make sure none of that is lost. Founded in 1987, its mission is, "To preserve natural environments and places of historic significance for present and future generations of the Cayman Islands." We are so glad that they have upheld these values for over 30 years and continue their mission through education, conservation programs, and hosting events across the island.

Nadia Hardie is the Executive Director of the National Trust. We had the opportunity to sit down with Nadia to learn more about the amazing work of the National Trust. (And you can check out more about her personal story here!)

The National Trust is a non-profit organization comprised of over 800 members. Its members have access to all Trust activities, discounts at National Trust properties in many different countries, and other amazing perks and benefits. We were surprised at how affordable membership to the Trust is—it would be well worth the investment for both Cayman visitors and residents. We could write a whole book about the different programs and benefits provided by the National Trust, but we will highlight just a few here.

Animal Conservation Programs

In our conversation with Nadia, we learned that there are many programs that work to protect wildlife across Cayman. The Trust now maintains over 3,000 acres of protected areas to ensure that these plants and animals have an environment in which they can thrive.

It is obvious that she is passionate about the Trust’s mission. She was excited to tell us about some of the animals that the Trust works to protect. The Trust has identified certain animals that require more than just maintaining their natural environment. For animals like the Blue Iguana and several species of bats, the Trust engages in conservation programs.

The Resurgence of the Blue Iguana

Nadia explained to us the work that the Trust is doing on behalf of the Blue Iguanas (blues), a species endemic to Cayman. In the 1980s, Blue Iguanas were on the verge of extinction and had all but disappeared from the island. Nadia informed us that at one point, there were as few as 30 blues in existence. This sparked the National Trust to establish the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. (You can read our interview with Nick Ebanks, Operations Manager of the Recovery program, here.)

The program was founded in 1990 and has made significant progress towards the preservation of Blue Iguanas. As of 2018, there were 1,000 blues in the wild population! Not only does the Trust assist with the breeding process and reintroducing the animals into the wild, it also works with researchers to monitor the population. It is the hope of the Trust that one day this program will not be necessary and Blue Iguanas will be able to breed and support themselves.

Protecting the Bats

Bats are also protected in Cayman since they serve many crucial functions on island. There is a lot of misinformation about bats and, as a result, they have been killed and their habitats have been destroyed. The National Trust recognizes the importance of these creatures and helps to maintain the population. Nadia even told us about a “Bats and Bonfires” event where they have a bonfire, fire dancers, food, and presentations on bat conservation.

Along with providing education about bats, the Trust also puts up bat houses across the island and does bat removals from households (as long as it isn’t pup season). Nadia stated that during pup season (June-October), they are unable to do any removals because it would put young bats at risk of abandonment by their parents. Who knew there was so much to know about bats?

Fun with Cultural Education

We were excited to find out about the different types of National Trust events that are great for families and people of all ages. Some of these events include Breakfast with Iguanas, Bats and Bonfires, craft workshops, family fun days, and various wildlife and historical tours. They also host a “Little Explorers” morning every Wednesday morning with art projects and fun activities for the kids! The Trust does an amazing job of providing cultural education in a fun and engaging environment.

One of our favorite initiatives by the Trust is the Explorer Passport to Grand Cayman, which helps visitors and residents discover some amazing sites across the island. The Explorer Passport comes with a map, stickers, and pages with fun facts and information on different locations on island. This is a great opportunity to learn about Cayman culture and have fun while doing it. The Explorer Passports are available at the Nature Store in Dart Family Park for only $10! We are so excited about this that we even wrote a whole blog post about it!

Get Involved

Looking for ways to give back while in Cayman? The National Trust has many different volunteer opportunities for both residents and visitors of Cayman. If you and your family would want to coordinate a volunteer opportunity to give back, the Trust has plenty of opportunities for you to lend a hand—Nadia and the Trust would be excited to have you!

If you would like to coordinate a volunteer opportunity for your group or family, you can contact her at director@nationaltrust.org.ky or the Community Development Manager, Karie Bounds at community@nationaltrust.org.ky.

Membership to the Trust comes with many local perks and even offers discounts and admission into National Trust properties in participating countries across the World. The membership fees allow the Trust to manage and maintain nine different environmental reserves. The Trust also offers corporate sponsorships and partnerships to aid in cultural, educational, conservation and environmental initiatives.

For more information on programs, membership and upcoming events, visit the National Trust for the Cayman Islands website.

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