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Seychelles in Venice: 15 life-sized giant tortoise sculptures to marvel at

Victoria, Seychelles | April 20, 2017, Thursday @ 14:37 in Entertainment » SEYCHELLES BUZZ | By: Daniel Laurence and Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 5113
Seychelles in Venice: 15 life-sized giant tortoise sculptures to marvel at

(Daniel Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)

Photo license  

(Seychelles News Agency) - Art from Seychelles will be showcased at the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale exhibition titled ‘Viva Arte Viva’ next month.

The island nation's pavilion will feature 15 life-sized sculptures of the Seychelles' iconic Giant Tortoises under the theme ‘slowly, quietly’ produced by Seychellois artists.

SNA brings you some of the sculptures which will bring aspects of Seychelles’ environment and culture to Venice.



'Wizard of the Land'

Acrylic paint onto fiberglass form

The wizard of the land is in love with the water. He is so honest that his thoughts are instantly reflected on his shell. Archie is his name amongst friends, and he lives on Bird Island, and he invents folding guitars. This instant pictorial poem which you see now is just one example of his lyrics. Look underneath and you will find another!

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Aphrodite Tortoise'

Acrylic paint onto fiberglass form

The tortoise carries both land and sea on its back, as revealed if you adopt a bird's eye view. I like painting the sea and land as panoramic vistas, the difference here is the perspective, the point of view. The ocean is so fast moving, in perpetual fluid motion; it seems ironic yet strangely apt that this turbulence is riding on the carapace of a creature famed for its lack of speed. Why Aphrodite? The goddess of love, procreation, beauty and pleasure surely has a place in Venice.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY




Recycled copper wire, resin and acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

Surrounded by ocean on a small tropical island, the continuous sound of the sea is supposed to induce calm, peace and a sense of being at one with nature. On December 26, 2004, a tsunami devastated the region, and 28 giant tortoises were believed to be lost at sea but were later discovered to be safe. My tortoise is one of those endangered tortoises. In my version it has been washed ashore in Venice, bringing with it the cry for help of so many small island states facing the threat of extinction from rising sea levels and tsunamis.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Esmeralda: the Prehistoric Goddess'

Mixed media collage (acrylic paint, glue, spray and fabric) onto fibre glass form

Communication about climate change sounds very complicated because we ignore and mismanage the various problems related to it. Esmeralda is our ambassador for climate change! The prehistoric goddess has a message to the world and is wise enough to make her pronouncement and contributions based on her annotations.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



Tortoise: My Version

Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

Giant tortoises form an integral part of the fabric of my life – I have known them to roam the gardens of my home since the day I was born - a result of my father's penchant for acquiring them. This creature conjures up memories from my past, my childhood, my family - especially my father, who is considered a local expert.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

I’ve heard that tortoises can live considerably more than 100 years and I feel that they might have witnessed stories from the past. Using a diversity of dripped colours and repeated patches of patterns, I’m symbolising the long and courageous lives of the tortoises and the traces that they leave behind as they travel from the past to the present.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Been there, Still around'

Copper construction and acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

The Giant Land Tortoise is one of the world's oldest living species. It is part of an ancient group of reptiles which first appeared about 250 million years ago. The characters painted on the shell of the tortoise symbolise the chained slaves who are the ancestors of the Seychellois nation.  After months and years of living under the oppressive rule of their 'masters', they found a way to express their pain and suffering by dancing and chanting Moutia around the fire.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'The Quick Cycle'

Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

Tortoises to me represent longevity, serenity, patience and hope. They demonstrate extreme strength, resilience and endurance. I have decided to portray the two aspects of our planet that we all enjoy before we go to sleep – day time and before the sun completely disappears to the other side, where we see a couple dancing in the sunset to the rhythm of the ocean washing up calmly onto the shore, maintaining the calmness, as if they do not exist. They do not disturb and are not disturbed.   

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Flying Chelonian' (or 'Winged Kobé')

For his wedding with Juno (Hera), Jupiter (Zeus) ordered Mercurius (Hermes) to invite all the gods, the men and animals. Everyone invited by Mercurius came, except for Chelone. When Mercurius noticed her absence, he went back down to the earth, threw in the river the house of Chelone and changed Chelone into an animal that would bear her name. Chelone is said testudo (tortoise) in Latin.

In what I consider to be fitting retribution to Mercurius (Hermes) for his bad temper  and abuse of power, I chose to take the wings from Mercurius’ legendary golden sandals, and transform them into magnificent white wings for Chelone so that henceforth she moves faster than he does.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY




Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

I am drawn by the colourful inconstancy of marine life, and my paintings are a mixture of real scenes and the imaginary. Sometimes a particular image is the inspiration for the work, at other times the paintings are borne in the imagination, as is the case with the tortoise piece, which resembles (in the form of the myriad fish) my painting 'Balmy', made in 2003 as well as many triptychs painted since.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Homage to the environment and its caretakers'

Oil paint onto fibreglass form

For years there has been a group of good individuals, both locals and foreigners, who have devoted time, energy and remarkable work towards protecting the environment in Seychelles. Similarly, to some extent my work has the same scope. The depiction of the array of birds and colourful fish are but samples of the amazing creatures in our environment. Moreover, the work seeks to celebrate the work of those good people. The tortoise is a token,an homage to these caretakers of our environment.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Make a Jazz Noise Here'

Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

It's a jazzy tortoise which gave me the opportunity to explore my painting in 3D. If the tortoise is slow these jazz grooves will wake it up! All that jazz and all those funky tortoises – I wanted to bring colour and sound to Venice!!

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Mer Kobe I Rakonte'

Resin, welded steel, image transfer, tie and die, drawing, painting on fibreglass form.

The composition is based on the story of the splitting of the Gondwana supercontinent, the survival instinct of the endemic giant tortoise of Seychelles, the formation of the tiniest continent which is indeed the Seychelles archipelago, its history of human settlement and our evolution to this day.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY



'Torti Moutya' (Moutia Tortoise)

Acrylic paint onto fibreglass form

My work is based upon the moutia, a traditional music and dance genre that originated from the days of slavery in Seychelles. Moutia involves one or two people, generally men, playing a tanbour or hand drum that rests on the musician's lap. On my tortoise the human participants of moutia are symbolised and stylised; some shapes represent the tanbour drums whilst others show the movement of the hands on the skin of the instrument.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY




Mixed media onto fibreglass form.

The title of my tortoise piece is Vandalism. I have used charcoal and cloth collage. The tortoise is an icon in Seychelles. Apart from worshiping it, I do not see what else one can do with an icon. This is one of the reasons I have deliberately chosen to leave parts of the whites apparent.I certainly did not want to cover it completely. In real life, it is already covered up. Nature did a very good job over that. I do not find tortoises aesthetically beautiful.

(Seychelles Art Projects Foundations) Photo License: CC-BY
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