[PhotoSparks] Art, nature and conservation: Seychelles and the Blue Economy

30th Jul 2016
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PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In this photo essay, we feature some of the creative art and environmental thought leadership from the stunning Seychelles islands!

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In the earlier 90 posts, we brought you a wide range of creative photographs from an art fair, world music festival, painting fair, telecom expo, art museum, mobile showcase, math museum, social hackathon, bookstore, co-working space, sensorium, international design week, flower show, outdoor ads, startup roadshow, computer museum, startup T-shirts, business cards, art therapy, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, Vesak, jazz festival, modern art gallery, ecopreneurs, painter-poets, health activists, eNGOs and digital innovators.

My travels this month took me to the spell-binding Seychelles islands off the coast of Kenya. The islands are a blend of granite and coral, and home to the world’s largest nut (coco de mer, endearingly called the ‘love nut’), largest population of giant tortoises, largest coral atoll, some of the largest seabird colonies, and one of the largest tuna factories.

With a population of only 95,000 people, the Seychelles still punches above its weight when it comes to leadership in conservation, environmental design and sustainable tourism. Many of its islands are designated natural reserves.

The culture reflects a blend of Africa, Europe and Asia, without being imposed from the top but ‘marinated’ over the years! The official languages are French and English, along with the hybrid Seychellois Creole (one of the few countries in the world to recognise Creole as an official language). The National Arts Council’s annual Festival Kreol celebrates forms of music such as sega, moutya and seggae, with many of the leading artistes honoured in the Musicians Hall of Fame.

Understandably, much of the art, sculpture and landscaping reflect the local flora and fauna, according to mixed-media artist George Camille, whom I had a chance to chat with at his Kaz Zanana gallery. His later works could perhaps be called ‘balanced surrealism’ (see photos in first half of this essay).

I also met artist Michael Adams in his studio on the southwest side of Mahe island. The bright colours and intense emotions of the Seychelles are clearly reflected in his paintings (see second half of the photo essay), and his more recent work explores the island communities in transition.

“Rural homes used to be built on stilts, which are friendly to the environment. Now, concrete and tar cover most surfaces,” he observes. The people of the Seychelles are very good natured but are in danger of being exploited by outside forces, he warns, pointing to the rise of casinos and drugs.

At a national level, the president James Alex Michel has authored a thought-provoking book, ‘Rethinking Oceans: Towards the Blue Economy,’ adding diverse perspectives to the ‘green’ movement. The University of Seychelles has formed the Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI), and findings are presented at forums such as the Blue Economy Summit.

For visitors to the island, what stands out at the end of the day are the spectacular oceanic experience, sizzling Creole cuisine, star-studded night sky, racial diversity, strong sense of community, charming hospitality, local creativity, and quirky humour (see the last two photos in this essay: from a bakery next to the fish market, and a cafe without WiFi).

Mersi, Sesel (‘thank you, Seychelles’)!

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

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