The Italian job - Seychelles flora and fauna showcased in travelling art exhibition
The essence of Seychelles: guests at the launch of the Seychelles edition of the 'Ars et Natura' art project admire this sculpture of a giant tortoise with one foot resting on the iconic coco-de-mer (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
For a group of sixteen professional Italian artists, 2013 was a memorable year. They visited the breathtakingly beautiful islands of the Seychelles archipelago with a specific mission: to capture the Seychelles’ unique flora and fauna in artistic form.
After being introduced to Seychellois artist Georges Camille, they decided to invite him and fellow local artist Camille Mondon to join their quest.
Slowly but surely, ideas and sketches materialised into works of art at the artists’ respective studios, finally culminating into a travelling art exhibition called ‘Ars et Natura’ (Art and Nature), showcasing 73 Seychelles-themed artworks and commencing in Rome in January.
On their 15-day trip to the islands, the Italian artists travelled to some of the archipelago's 115 islands in order to capture the island nation's biodiversity, natural features and human settlements.
|Admiring the work: a wide variety of different styles were used to document and immortalise the flora and fauna of the Seychelles islands (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The artists presented their work through sketches, watercolors, oils, pencils, mixed media, and sculptures.
The Italian group is comprised of painters, illustrators and naturalists from a wide range of areas, ages and backgrounds, with one thing in common - a love for capturing the majesty of nature through art.
The paintings explore important concepts and ideas concerning specific aspects of the country’s natural heritage, such as forests, beaches, mangroves, mountains, waters, and coral reefs, and allow the observer to get an overview of the unique natural environment of Seychelles, including endemic and rare species. The art pieces also feature the social customs and traditions of the archipelago's 90,000 inhabitants.
|Guests at the launch leaf through a copy of the coffee-table book on the art project (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The exhibition has now travelled south, all the way from Europe down to the 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago for the launch of the exhibition in Seychelles at Kaz Zanana Art Gallery, located on the outskirts of the archipelago’s capital of Victoria on Friday evening,
Organised locally by the Seychelles Art Project Foundation in collaboration with the Arterial Network and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), the exhibition will remain open until August 31.
|The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the most iconic figures of Seychelles animal life (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Claudio Izzi, the Italian Consul for Seychelles, recognised the recent successful performance of two Seychellois artists, George Camille and Leon Radegonde, at the ongoing Venice Biennale, saying that through the travelling exhibition, the collaboration between Seychelles and Italy would once again bring exciting works of art to the public.
“What we have the privilege to see tonight at Kaz Zanana,” said Izzi, “is the perfect combination between enjoyment and assignment as the artists, apart from working for the exhibition, also enjoyed the Seychelles. We can see that your souls were fully engaged while at work.”
While the audience was impressed by the quality and the variety of the display, the Italian artists, led by Alessandro Troisi, described the artistic environment of Seychelles as being invigorating to both the body and the soul.
Triosi described Seychelles, and more specifically the island of Cousin where they spent a few days in 2013 during their creative expedition as a “pristine and true earthly paradise”.
|Some of the artists, including Seychellois artist George Camille, at the launch ceremony for the Seychelles edition of the 'Ars et Natura' exhibition (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
|Young and old can learn something from the depiction of the Seychelles' unique biodiversity (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“Looking at the final products,” said Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange at the launching ceremony, “we must feel proud of our little country, as what you saw you put on canvas, and that we are all today able to show to the world that Seychelles is as pristine as we say it is.”Most of the artists went to Cousin Island to be inspired, and it is clear that the beauty of this island and indeed Seychelles as a whole and how it is protected, is well showcased at Kaz Zanana, a beautifully and lovingly-restored wooden traditional Creole house.
The dedication to this mission to paint the unique environment of Seychelles is immortalised in a book, which was also launched during the opening ceremony.
Most of the artworks and prints are for sale, as well as a limited number of books.
|The artists have chosen to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of the books to support Nature Seychelles and the conservation work done on the special nature reserve of Cousin Island. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
According to a press statement from the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the artists have chosen to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of each book to support Nature Seychelles and the conservation work done on the special nature reserve of Cousin Island.
It is hoped that the coffee-table book will continue to portray these wonderful works of art long after the exhibition is over.
The group of artists has also programmed a whole-day workshop at the Botanical Gardens with some school children on Monday, aimed at teaching them nature sketching techniques.