Corporate offices cannot be expected to serve as small art galleries. But why should shipping and manning companies display only ISM and MLC certificates on their lobby walls? Why not also marine paintings, even if they are only repro works by famous artists? Some art would help give the premises a more pleasant atmosphere. It would also send a subtle message to visitors that the CEO knows how to appreciate art and is not a certified philistine.
Promoting art in an industry that is always in a mad scramble for profits will probably not be easy. How many maritime folks have the time for art? And yet, there are compelling reasons for promoting marine art — not least because it is part of humankind’s maritime heritage. Here are a three ways:
• Give international awards to companies that have done the most to promote marine art. Perhaps the International Maritime Organization can launch such an awards programme. If bravery at sea and gender equality are so important to the IMO, why shouldn’t it treat marine art the same way?
• Encourage ship owners to display marine art in the galleys and mess halls of their fleets. Art can have great therapeutic value. Yet, those who blabber about depression amongst seafarers do not mention it as one approach to the problem they say is very serious.
• Incorporate marine art history and appreciation in the curriculum of maritime colleges. Education is not only meant to prepare the young to acquire the skills and knowledge they would need in the world of work. It is also a journey towards personal fulfilment and the well-rounded development of the individual.
To go back to the question, why promote marine art? One of the best answers was given by the English novelist and playwright, John Galsworthy. Speaking of art in general, he wrote in his 1911 essay, ‘Vague Thoughts On Art’:
Art is the one form of human energy in the whole world, which really works for union, and destroys the barriers between man and man. It is the continual, unconscious replacement, however fleeting, of oneself by another; the real cement of human life; the everlasting refreshment and renewal.
As things stand today in the shipping industry, many could make use of such refreshment and renewal.
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