Seashell Series 2020
Original Photos by Barista Uno
The art movement known as Impressionism produced many notable artists. The greatest of them all, I daresay, was Claude Monet (1840 – 1926). The founder of French Impressionism, Monet executed colour on canvas as a ballet dancer would perform on stage: with energy, precision and nimbleness. He is famous for his Water Lilies series, but his marine paintings are no less marvellous. Indeed, they mesmerise.
As the novel coronavirus marches on, the global shipping community is hailing seafarers as the “Unsung Heroes of Global Trade”. The slogan sounds nice but hollow. In fact, it is downright disingenuous.
How can the words ring true when thousands of seafarers have been stranded in foreign ports and harbours because of COVID-19? That the problem exists on such a scale shows how the maritime world really regards the men and women who toil at sea: they are commodities.
Never mind Maritime English. That thing was invented so that more people can make money from seafarers. What is essential is that ship officers and crew are able to communicate in simple, clear and effective English.
While humans by nature have a perpetual need for company, we all need to be alone sometimes. No, not the solitude of quarantine or imprisonment, but the solitariness born out of choice and free will. To be able to step back from the noisy crowd is to be free in the real sease of the word. As the following works of art show, there is something beautiful and almost sublime about this freedom.
A crowded beach speaks eloquently of the human condition: the perpetual need for company. People not only congregate there to enjoy sun and sea. They desire to mingle with others and be part of a larger fellowship.
This is why many are whining about the coronavirus lockdowns. To be forced to stay at home is not essentially different from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange withering away in London’s Belmarsh Prison. One is deprived, not only of freedom of movement, but of human companionship.
Proverbs can offer more wisdom than one can find in a philosophical treatise. I like to compare them to a demitasse, the small cup used to serve strong black coffee. The following are 30 such sayings. I have collected and arranged them by theme in the hope that seafarers and other readers of Marine Café Blog would benefit from their homespun truths.
Beaches have been turned into no-go zones because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this seems necessary to help stop the virus, it is a real damper. It not only curtails people’s freedom to enjoy sun and sea; it is depriving them of a major source of healing.
The coronavirus pandemic is a dark time for the entire world. Even so, it has served to highlight the true state of seafarers’ rights — minus the rhetoric and euphemisms the shipping industry loves to use. The following memes contain some of my personal views on the subject in light of COVID-19. I have created them especialy for seafarers to share with others.
One of the most beautiful tributes to mothers I have come across is a poem by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1889—1957). It is entitled ‘Caricia’ (meaning “Caress” in English). The short poem has a power of emotion that shines through Mistral’s simple, down-to-earth language. The last line makes a reference to the sea, which makes this a wonderful Mother’s Day read for those who miss the sand and salt water.
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, thousands of seafarers are stranded in various ports and harbours around the world. It is a hellish situation. The indefinite isolation is enough to cause stress, anxiety, and even depression amongs crew members.
Whatever happened to ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006?
It’s the worst of times for both ships and seafarers.
The World Trade Organization in Geneva has forecast world merchandise trade to plummet by 13% in 2020. If the coronavirus pandemic is not brought under control and governments fail to coodinate their policy responses, the drop could be as much as 32%.
As precious as childhood itself are old photographs of children on the beach. The following pictures — a sequel to my blog post of 26th July 2019, The joy of childhood and the sea celebrated in art — tell of happy days. However, they have a certain poignancy which calls to mind a poem written by one of England’s best known poets.
With so much din and clamour over seafarers’ rights, many people could be forgetting that the exploitation of child is a far greater problem. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 152 million are victims of child labour worldwide (see the ILO facts and figures here). The following 19th-century paintings should serve as a Labour Day reminder of this ugly ever-present reality.