I am inviting all and sundry to submit their best photos for an upcoming Marine Café Blog feature about of water. It is my hope that the selected pictures will remind everyone of the immense importance of this natural resource to a world threatened by global warming.
Fire or ice? Robert Frost on how the world will end
The torrid temperatures this April reminded me of a 1920 poem by Robert Frost titled ‘Fire and Ice’. Using the contrasting images of fire and ice, the beloved American poet muses on how the world will end. He speaks of the cataclysmic event in a colloquial tone, which makes the poem somehow more chilling.
‘Meditation by the Sea’: Thoughts on a mindful painting
It may not be dramatic like J.M.W. Turner’s famous Fighting Temeraire, but ‘Meditation by the Sea’ is my favourite marine painting. As a writer and observer of the shipping world, I can identify with this work. I even see myself in it.
Humans on hot days: Refreshing vintage photographs
On sweltering days, humans are instinctively drawn to water. The mere sight of it evokes a feeling of delight and even joy. The following vintage photos may not bring surcease to those suffering from the current heat wave that is gripping many countries. Nonetheless, they should be refreshing to the eyes, if not to the spirit.
Frozen sea: Frank Hurley’s amazing Antarctic photos
The world owes a debt of gratitude to James Francis “Frank” Hurley. The Australian photographer and adventurer took part in a number of expeditions to Antarctica, documenting with his camera a place that most of humanity will never get to see or set foot on.
Old harbour photos: A brief reflection on ships and men
A harbour is often thought of as a place bustling with maritime commerce. The Britannica definition of the term reminds us of its primary function: “any part of a body of water and the manmade structures surrounding it that sufficiently shelters a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, enabling safe anchorage or the discharge and loading of cargo and passengers.”
Still waters: Serenity in traditional Japanese art
The spirit of serenity, which Zen Buddhism seeks to cultivate, is a key aspect of Japan’s tea ceremony as it is of traditional Japanese art. In his iconic The Book of Tea, art critic Okakura Kakuzo drew a connection between the world of art and the world of tea :
“The tea-masters held that real appreciation of art is only possible to those who make of it a living influence. Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings.”
Sunless days at the beach in vintage photographs
Who would go to the beach when the weather is cold, damp and dreary? People go there to bask in the glory of the sun. Yet, there is something special — even beautiful — about a beach on a sunless day. Far from the motley crowd of sunbathers and alone near the mist-covered sea, one may come to realise the complex and perplexing nature, not only of the sea, but of life itself.
Seven sounds more meaningful than maritime slogans
Why listen to the slogans blaring out of the IMO and its global maritime chorus? These incessant tributes to seafarers are not music to the ears. They are hackneyed and shopworn. They don’t mean a thing. It is more pleasant to hear the wonderful beat of commerce on the waterfront and the enchanting sounds of the sea and seagulls.
Climate crisis: Forebodings from past works of art
On 9th August, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a press release ominously headlined ‘Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying’. The IPCC statement painted a grim picture of what would happen in the likely event that global temperature reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius: rising sea level, unprecedented extreme weather conditions, drought, wildfires, etc. Interestingly, some artworks created more than a century ago — long before there was talk of CO2 emissions and global warming — provide a foretaste of what is happening today and what could happen in future in terms of climate change. It is as though the Past were mirroring the Future.
Seascape paintings: Behold the clouds above!
The sea is the star of the show, so to speak, in a seascape painting. However, the area of the artwork that shows the sky and the clouds in particular is just as important. For the viewer not to give these elements enough attention is to do the painting and its creator a huge disservice.
Based on their shapes and colours, clouds indicate the atmospheric condiitions under which the sea moves and changes its appearance. They also serve as a kind of time stamp on the scene depicted. More importantly, from the aesthetic perspective, clouds and the rest of the sky contribute to the atmosphere of the work — that is, its pervading tone or mood.
The wonder of water: A celebration in song and art
“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water,” wrote W.H. Auden in his poem First Things First. This is such an obvious truth that one wonders why the seas are strewn with tonnes of plastic waste and rivers are polluted till they become dark and ugly. The following song and works of art are a tribute to life-giving andl life-sustaining water. They are a reminder as well that water is a precious resource that ought not to be taken for granted.