Exquisite Japanese marine art in everyday objects

It must be in the Japanese DNA. How else can one explain the fact that the Japanese have such a strong artistic sense? They seem to immerse themselves in beauty, even making the viewing of cherry blossoms a national pastime. Not content with admiring the beauty of...

Sea shanties: celebrating life and work at sea

Until recently, I was a total stranger to sea shanties. My taste in music has usually veered towards the classical, my favourites being Frédéric Chopin's nocturnes and Beethoven's piano concertos. But after listening to a few shanties, I have become a fan. These work...

Winslow Homer’s wonderful drawings of fishermen

Winslow Homer (pictured above at the age of 44) is best known for his marine oil paintings. His iconic The Fog Warning and Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) have assured him a place in the pantheon of the all-time greats of American art. However, Homer's artistic gift is no...

IMO White List: too much ado about nothing

A recent article in The Manila Times caused a ruckus by raising the spectre of the Philippines being struck off the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) updated White List. What? The top crew supplier not making it to the roster of members states that have...

The way of the sea in Japanese woodblock prints

In his classic 1906 essay, The Book of Tea, Japanese scholar Kakuzo Okakura spoke of the philosophy of tea as “moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe”. This sense of proportion — the notion of man as being a mere part of the...

12 remarkable photographs of boats in black and white

I am deeply grateful to all the photographers who answered my call in late February for black and white photographs of boats. The two-week search yielded a good harvest of talent: some 70 entries from different countries. Choosing the best was not easy as there were...

Hiring halls for Filipino seamen: why not?

Over the years, I have seen every malpractice imaginable in Manila's manning sector. Not the least of the misdeeds is the thievery involving dollar remittances from ship crews (see my blog post “Crewing agents as money changers”). It makes me want to puke and wish...

Boats on camera: an invitation to photographers

There is something about boats that has beguiled photographers for more than a century. The photo above from the Australian National Maritime Museum dates back to around 1928. It shows sloops racing on the choppy waters of Sydney Harbour. As part of Marine Café Blog's...

Promoting marine art: a blogger’s confession

In October of 2018 I announced Marine Café Blog's shift in focus. Instead of the mundane issues that bedevil the maritime industry, I would write about marine art and other topics ignored by the shipping press, including sea-related photography and literature. For...

Maritime awards: what do they really mean?

International awards in the maritime industry will never equal the prestige of filmdom's Oscar Awards — nor the pomp and glamour of the ceremonies that attend the latter. Still, they are noteworthy because of their sheer number. A slosh of high praise and accolades...

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