19 April 2017

Seychelles' Giant Tortoises to Feature At Venice Art Exhibition

Photo: Daniel Laurence/Seychelles News Agency
15 life-sized giant tortoise sculptures.

A national pavilion showcasing the work of 16 Seychellois artists will be part of the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale exhibition titled 'Viva Arte Viva.'

The exhibition - curated by Martin Kennedy and organised by the Seychelles Art Projects Foundation (SAPF) - will showcase the tortoises of the island nation and has been aptly named "Slowly Quietly."

The title for the Venice Biennale exhibition was chosen by Christine Macel who explains that, "Viva Arte Viva is an exclamation, an expression of the passion for art and for the state of the artist. Viva Arte Viva is a Biennale designed with the artists, by the artists and for the artists."

The Seychellois pavilion will feature 16 life-sized sculptures of the giant tortoises from Seychellois artists who were given the opportunity to freely interpret blank tortoise sculptures with the aim of bringing aspects of Seychelles' environment and culture to Venice.

The giant tortoises in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, can be seen only in the island nation and the Galapagos island in Ecuador. They are among the world's longest living animals with a lifespan of 100 years or more. It is widely used in local art and design.

Seychellois artist George Camille, who has designed the original artwork using fibreglass resin by Allen Camille, said that the project started three years ago.

"We started initially with the aim to auction each art work after putting it together, but we thought that it will be a great idea to bring the work and a piece of the island nation in the Venice Biennale exhibition," Camille told SNA.

The work of each artist is shown in unique ways where they find themselves experimenting with attractive colours and ideas from their surrounding environment. Some have added amazing accessories such as huge white wings springing from the top of Christine Harter's creation. Other chose the tortoise as canvas to express the Seychelles' lifestyle and culture like Marc Luc's homage to jazz music 'Make a Jazz Noise Here'.

Camille said that the creation is "a playground of ideas that can also be use to raise awareness on the protection of the environment."

The participation of the Seychellois artists has the support of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

The principal secretary for the ministry, Benjamine Rose, said that the artwork involves a high level of creativity.

"Those representations reflect the history, beauty and culture of Seychelles." Rose said. "Nevertheless, the Venice Biennale exhibition stress on originality and we are going to offer just that."

The Venice Biennale exhibition runs May 13 to November 26.


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