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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.

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.

Shell fantasy: Six camera and mind compositions

As any avid shell collector knows, seashells are the hard exoskeletons (external coverngs) of marine molluscs which serve both as their home and their armour. They are the remnants of creatures that have long passed away. As a photographer, my aim in this set of pictures was to try to give seashells a new kind of life and vitality. These are actual photographs, not manipulated digital images. I hope you enjoy viewing each one.

A salute to seagulls in poetry, music and art

Seagulls can be quite pesky. The loud, harsh sounds they make are no music to the ear. An Encyclopedia Britannica article describes seagulls as “adaptable opportunists” that feed on whatever food they can find. “Some of the larger gulls,” it notes, “prey on the eggs and the young of other birds, including their own kind.” Despite their notoriety, these birds continue to captivate many people with their beauty, resilience and freedom.

Marvellous American art inspired by the Mississippi River

The United States Geological Survey ranks the Mississippi River fifth amongst the world’s longest rivers and the second longest in North America. From its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico, its waters flow 2,340 miles (3,766 kms). But more significantly, the Mississippi River brims with history and culture. The following works of art are but a small collection but they tell a story about the great Mississippi. The three quotes are from Mark Twain’s 1883 memoir, ‘Life on the Mississippi’.

Through the lens: Nude beauties at the beach

If one can admire the beauty of seashells and see in them the grandeur of cathedrals, why can’t one adopt the same attitude towards the female body? As the English artist and poet William Blake wrote in his Proverbs of Hell (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), “The nakedness of woman is the work of God.” The following photographs of nude women at the beach are stricty for those who can view nudity as art.

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