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A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

The shipping industry should stop this silly talk about seafarers being invisible. How can they be out of sight and out of mind? Seafarers love to post selfies on Facebook. And there is constant warbling from the maritime do-gooders about the rights and mental health of mariners that is louder than the song of a blue whale.

No sir, the really invisible ones are the fishermen who eke out a living from the sea. They are seldom in the media spotlight. Unsung, they face greater dangers in the course of their work than do merchant sailors. Yet, how many would spare a thought for these hardy folks?

Aboard a Dutch fishing trawler, 1943
Photographer unknown
Courtesy of Nationaal Archief (the Dutch National Archives)

Crew of the halibut steamer boat the Roman with pilot Oscar Grauer standing at right, between 1900 and 1909?
Photographer unknown
UBC (The University of British Columbia) Library on Flickr

Concarneau (Finistère, France): The sardines are removed from the fillets, 1913
Photographer: Agence Rol (French photo agency)
Courtesy of Gallica Digital Library

Norway. Cod Fishing,1910
Photographer: Anders Beer Wilse (Norwegian, 1865 –1949)
Courtesy of the National Library of Norway

Two fishermen in the southwest standing next to a fishing boat, date unknown
Photographer unknown
Courtesy of the National Library of Norway

Fishermen on the pier at Downings, Co. Donegal, c. 1910
Photographer unknown
Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Saturday Afternoon, c. 1889
Photographer: Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (British, 1853 – 1941)
Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Whitby Fishermen, 1880
Photographer: Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (British, 1853 – 1941)
Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

[Fisherman in Doorway of Dock-House], 1916
Photographer: Doris Ulmann (American, 1882 – 1934)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Read this compelling report about human rights abuses in the fishing induustry:

Blood and Water: Human rights abuse in the global seafood industry

~ Barista Uno

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Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

Can the world do without fish? In 2018 humans consumed a total of 156.4 million tonnes (live weight) of fish, according to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The following is a tribute to God-given, life-sustaining fish from various artists and from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.

The Fish

by William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

Although you hide in the ebb and flow
Of the pale tide when the moon has set,
The people of coming days will know
About the casting out of my net,
And how you have leaped times out of mind
Over the little silver cords,
And think that you were hard and unkind,
And blame you with many bitter words.

“BLUE DOG” Shark
Carved and painted wood sculpture, c. 1922–1928
John Orne Johnson Frost ( American, 1852–1928)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Goldfish Candy
Amezaiku (Japanese candy craft artistry), 2015
Hiroaki Kikuchi via Wikimedia
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) licence

The Goldfish
Oil and watercolour on paper, 1925
Paul Klee (Swiss-born German, 1879–1940)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Leaping Trout
Watercolour over graphite, 1889
Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Pike, Lake St. John (Ouananiche Fishing)
Watercolour over graphite, 1897
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums

Head of a Salmon
Woodblock print, c. 1820
Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Carp
Ink and colour on silk, no date
Ohara Koson (Japanese, 1877–1945)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Two carp
Colour woodcut, 1831
Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Fish
MIniature glass sculpure, France, 19th century
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Set of Three Fish in Original Box
Agate, holly, silk velvet, c. 1890
House of Fabergé (Russian, 1842–1918)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

~ Barista Uno

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Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Any person with some ethical sense would say that the use of cadets as unpaid office flunkeys and domestic servants is wrong. But for most folks in maritime Manila, the practice is both normal and right.

Some even insist that it is beneficial to the cadets, like the manning executive who once declared, “You have to break them in”. He sounded as though he was talking about of a new pair of shoes that needed to be loosened so it could be worn comfortably by the owner. Fair enough,  but why subject the cadets to indefinite periods of servitude before deploying them oversas as apprentice-officers?

It is so much rationalisation for using young people aspiring to become ship officers for one’s own benefit. The maritime flunkey system is neither “right” nor should it ever be considered “normal”. There is a host of better words to describe it. For example:

Disgraceful
Reprehensible
Loathsome
Detestable
Egregious
Demeaning
Offensive
Disgusting
Lamentable
Rotten

Don’t expect any of these adjectives to be used by those who, directly or indirectly, perpetuate the exploitation of cadets — the crewing agencies, the unions and, not least of all, the maritime colleges that supply the cadets to the flunkey factory. Some try to give excuses, but most are silent on the matter. It’s a clear sign of a very damaged culture.

~ Barista Uno

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Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

In his 1906 book The Mirror of the Sea, Joseph Conrad likened the sea to “a savage autocrat” with a “conscienceless temper”, the “irreconcilable enemy of ships and men.” The sea, however, has not stopped the centuries-old tide of emigrants. Today, people still cross the ocean to escape political or religious persecution at home, or simply to seek a better life in a foreign land. It’s a familiar narrative that is told in the following works of art.

NOTE: The term “emigrant” is often confused with “immigrant”. The former means a person who leaves his home country to settle permanently in another. The latter is one who has come to live permanently in a foreign country, which means he or she has already arrived in the country of destination.

Emigrants at Larsens Square,1890
Edvard Petersen (Danish,1841–1911)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Emigrants,1892
Illustration in Capitals of the World (engraving by Derbier after painting by Dawant) showing crowd at shipping dock waiting to embark
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Emigrants (The Last Ship)
Nicolae Vermont (Romanian,1866–1932)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Emigrant Ship or Good-Bye!, 1878
Charles Josepth Staniland (British, 1838-1916)
Coutersy of Wikimedia Commons

The sea was ruffled, but of a beautiful blue color, and the weather was fine. No land was visible… But the sight to see was the third-class people. The larger part of these emigrants, overcome with sea-sickness, lay huddled together,—some thrown across the benches like the dead or dying, with faces all dirty and hair all rumpled, amid a tangle of ragged wraps.

— Edmondo De Amicis, from On Blue Water, Chapter II (1897)

Emigrants on shipboard, 1871
Illustration in Every Saturday, Boston, 6 May 1871
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

The Emigrant Ship, no date
John Absolon (British, 1815–1895)
Courtesy of History of Art

Overcome, 1897
Frontispeice to ‘On Blue Water’ by Edmondo De Amicis’ (illustration by unnamed artist)

The Storm Scene, 1906
Ephraim Moshe Lilien (Austrian, 1874–1925)
Illustration in The New Art of an Ancient People: The Work of Ephraim Moshe Lilien by M. S. Levussove

“On a boat driven through the dark night are two old Jews, traveling onward. A storm is raging around them; and amidst the rigging, enveloped in wings of inky blackness, sits the Angel of Death gazing upon her helpless and forlorn prey.” (from Levussove’s book)

Emigrant Arrival at Constitution Wharf, Boston, 1857
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Desembarco de los puritanos en América (Landing of the Puritans in America), 1863
Antonio Gisbert Pérez (Spanish, 1834–1902)
Courtesy of Senado de España

What was it like to be an emigrant on a steamship during the late 19th century?

Read ‘On Blue Water’ to find out.

Click here to download the book.

 

James McNeill Whistler’s wonder-full waterfront etchings

James McNeill Whistler’s wonder-full waterfront etchings

American-born artist James McNeill Whistler (pictured above in his circa-1872 self-portrait) is remembered by many for his iconic ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Mother’ and his dream-like paintings such as ‘Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville’. His etchings, however, are not less deserving of admiration. He created many such works, the most interesting being his etchings of waterfront scenes.

Below are 12 port and harbour etchings by Whistler, together with excerpts from my earlier articles. Some look like hurried sketches. Others are carefully composed and richly detailed — which is a testimony to Whistler’s draughtsmanship¹ and eye for detail. In all of them, the waterfront comes alive with a certain sort of freshness and raw energy.

¹ Whistler studied drawing in St. Petersburg, Russia (the Imperial Academy of Science). He excelled in Robert W. Weir‘s drawing class at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Read more about his life and art here.

”There is hardly any place in a town or city more interesting than the waterfront. It is here where one encounters life in the raw with all its piquant energy.”

— BU, Serdar Bayram: Waterfront photography as metaphor

Billingsgate, 1850
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thames Warehouses, 1859
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Longshore Men, 1859
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“I remember watching from the upper deck tiny fishes swim alongside the ship whilst it was moored. The riot of smells from ripe pineapples, jute sacks and salt water was an experience I shan’t forget.”

— BU, 10 wondrous paintings of the waterfront

Little Wapping, 1861
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Two Ships, 1875
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Pool, 1859
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Limehouse, 1859
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

“The waterfront is larger than life. It is not only the huge ships and the huge machines that make it so. It is the vibrancy of commerce under a bright sun with the smell of salt water filling the air”.

— BU, The perpetual lure of the waterfront

Old Hungerford Bridge, 1861
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

From Pickle Herring Stairs, 1876-77
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Eagle Wharf, 1859
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rotherhithe (Wapping), 1860
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

~ Barista Uno

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