Seashell Series 2020
Original Photos by Barista Uno
Never mind Maritime English. That thing was invented so that more people can make money from seafarers. What is essential is that ship officers and crew are able to communicate in simple, clear and effective English.
While humans by nature have a perpetual need for company, we all need to be alone sometimes. No, not the solitude of quarantine or imprisonment, but the solitariness born out of choice and free will. To be able to step back from the noisy crowd is to be free in the real sease of the word. As the following works of art show, there is something beautiful and almost sublime about this freedom.
A crowded beach speaks eloquently of the human condition: the perpetual need for company. People not only congregate there to enjoy sun and sea. They desire to mingle with others and be part of a larger fellowship.
This is why many are whining about the coronavirus lockdowns. To be forced to stay at home is not essentially different from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange withering away in London’s Belmarsh Prison. One is deprived, not only of freedom of movement, but of human companionship.
With so much din and clamour over seafarers’ rights, many people could be forgetting that the exploitation of child is a far greater problem. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 152 million are victims of child labour worldwide (see the ILO facts and figures here). The following 19th-century paintings should serve as a Labour Day reminder of this ugly ever-present reality.
Man was not designed to be confined indoors. Even convicts are let out into the prison yard to get some sun. What more for the average person? The following paintings by 10 notable artists celebrate the joy of the outdoors, of water and sunlight, and of that natural freedom most people take for granted until they are deprived of it.
People are being bombarded daily with news of the coronavirus pandemic. Many must be tired of the subject. So why would Marine Café Blog share artworks that depict past plagues? First, because they remind us that massive outbreaks of diseases are nothing new. Second, because art can help us deal with our own emotions and sublimate them into some form of activity — such as doing something creative or helping others in these dark, tumultous times.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you,” according to an old saying. The coronavirus may have cast a long shadow, and the crisis may be far from over. But for those who look at the brighter side, there is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic even for the hard-hit shipping sector.
The Tao Te Ching is a jewel of a book ascribed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (6th century BC). It offers precious insights into Taoism, its central concept of the Tao, and a way of life marked by harmony and tranquility. But there’s another good reason for reading this classic text: it is rich in poetic metaphors.
My friend Frankie the Sage Cat is smarter than some pundits who appear on television to give their two cents’ worth. But he’ll never be invited to guest on any show. You see, Frankie’s views can be a bit far-out even when it comes to the shipping industry. He’s an iconoclast at heart, always ready to criticise institutions and people’s cherished beliefs. This was evident once again during Marine Café Blog’s latest conversation with the fellow.
Vintage photographs are valuable artefacts insofar as they preserve the memory of people and things that otherwise would slip into oblivion. Some old pictures, however, do much more: they are veritable works of art. The following are six such photographs. They are timeless reminders of the beauty and power of the sea, as worthy of being kept for posterity as the seascapes of famous painters.
When viewing art, I often find myself comparing it to tea or coffee. That may seem odd, but the analogy makes perfect sense. An art piece such as a painting or woodblock print has a unique flavour — a distinctive quality or atmosphere that sets it apart from the works of other artists or even from those by the same artist. Needless to say, great art provides more than just visual refreshment. The following are some examples from the world of marine art:
There is plenty to learn from the coronavirus pandemic beyond its medical aspect. How individuals and nations have been responding to the crisis speaks volumes about 21st century politics, the global economic order and human nature in general. In the shipping world, COVID-19 has highlighted some basic truths which many have probably taken granted.
What did Blackbeard, one of history’s most famous pirates, look like in real life? I believe we will never know for sure. Blackbeard, byname of Edward Teach (or Thatch), lived from around 1680 to 1718 — long before the advent of photography. He is typically shown sporting a luxuriant beard (hence the nickname), but that does not really say much about his true countenance.