What legendary creature could be more popular than the mermaid? Since the days of silent film, this mythical being with the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish has been featured in more than 60 movies. She has graced countless children’s books. Her image greets coffee drinkers as they order capuccino at a Starbucks counter and drink from the cup with the twin-tailed mermaid logo.
Enough of the empty slogans. A meaningful, and certainly more creative, way to pay tribute to those who work at sea is through music and song. The following videos feature some of the best songs on YouTube about old sailors and fishermen — those hardy spirits who cut their teeth on boats and have spent many years at sea.
I have posted so many articles about marine art that I have now lost count. So it’s about time that I wrote about my personal approach to the subject. I have no pretensions to being an art critic, much less an art historian. But I do have a passion for art that started in my late teens. The world of marine art is so vast that I have to continue educating myself. With that in mind, I should lke to share some tips for appreciating marine art, most of them applicable to art in general.
Let’s face it. The ships of today can’t hold a candle to the splendour of the sailing vessels that used to roam the oceans. Certainly not the monstrous mega cruise ships or the dreary container ships often celebrated in the shipping world. Here’s a nostalgic look at the former beauties of the sea as portrayed by various artists.
Beauty, it is often said, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe so, but I don’t derive any aesthetic pleasure from looking at mega cruise ships. I consider these multi-storey floating hotels to be eyesores. At best, they look like stodgy assemblages of Lego bricks; at worst, monstrous structures of steel and glass. The following photographs will illustrate my point.
The sea is complex and mysterious. Woman is not less so. French author Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) sought to fathom the depths of her nature in her 1949 book, ‘The Second Sex’ (French title: Le Deuxième Sexe) — a feminist tour de force that deals with the psychology of women and how they have been treated through the centuries. The following works of art also provide some insights into woman and her different facets. I hope you enjoy them as much as Simone de Beauvoir’s tome…
They say a vaccine will vanquish the coronavirus. Maybe so, but the war against this invisible enemy will be won, not by the tools of science alone, but by the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The following works of art and accompanying quotes highlight the importance of inner peace in these troubled times. I hope they provide inspiration to those who are feeling distressed and perhaps even hopeless because of the pandemic.
A humpback whale shooting up suddenly from the depths of the ocean is something to behold. Not everyone, though, will ever get the chance to witness such a spectacle. I hope that the following works of art would give Marine Café Blog readers the pleasure of seeing whales as artists through the centuries saw them: as beautiful, mysterious and awe-inspiring creatures.
In ordinary usage, the word “siren” is defined by the Oxford English Dictiionary as “a woman who is considered to be alluring or fascinating but also dangerous in some way”. Feminists might object to the term as being sexist. However, not a few women would feel flattered if they were called “siren”. In Greek mytholody, sirens (pictured above) were creatures, half bird and half woman, whose music and singing lured unsuspecting sailors to destruction. They have since become the archetype of the woman who has the ability to bewitch and have control over men.
Most men are fascinated with cars. I am fascinated with seashells. Odd as it may sound, they remind me of the grandeur of cathedrals. I find the shell of the nautilus particularly interesting. Its spiral form is simple yet beautiful and elegant. Indeed, it is an architectural marvel as complex and enigmatic as the sea itself.
Who would not want to journey to Venice, the city beloved by famour artists and ordinary tourists alike? The English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, summed up its appeal in his poem ‘Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation’: “Its temples and its palaces did seem / Like fabrics of enchantment piled to Heaven.” Alas, not everyone has the means or the opportunity to visit the place. But no worries, the following artworks and poems will transport you blissfully to beautiful Venice.
These are not the best times for America. The nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus and rent by racial divisions. For all this, Americans have good reason to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. As John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote:
‘It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’ (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776)