Monday, July 13, 2009

Shipboard Savoir Faire

When travelling these days not a lot of us attach any serious importance to the means that we get there, be it by aeroplane, ocean liner or train. To see these modes of transport as symbols of state or showcases of art is a thing of the past, especially where ocean liner and cruise ship design is involved. Today modern day cruising has been reduced to a travelling sideshow of tacky glitz and glamour, to entice the travelling public. Liners were used by various companies and countries to showcase the best in art and design for the age in which they were created. Famous artists and designers were used to create overall concepts that just reeked of savoir faire. I have often looked at interior shots of these older liners and have been left salivating over the plethora of fixtures, furniture and artwork which once graced these beautiful interiors, and have wished to own virtual pieces of history.

Through the dedication and passion of one man, this is no longer a pipe dream, and we can all own a bit of savoir faire from a past liner and era. Midship Century ( was founded in 2005 by ocean liner historian and journalist Peter Knego as a logical outlet for the container loads of materials he salvaged from a long procession of celebrated vessels scrapped on the beach of Alang, India in recent years. His site is well worth a visit even if just to dream of a bygone era.

A few of the items which I am seriously coveting are as follows. These are important works and I am glad that Peter has managed to save them.

"Chariots" Silver Leaf Painting by Emanuele Luzzati from the Stella Solaris is at the top of my list. This once graced the dining room as a backdrop for the Captain’s Table and what a backdrop it is! The painting epitomises much of Luzzati’s work and is an important piece, not only in its execution but also in its beauty. Now if I had it where would I put it? Mmm not sure on that one, however want it I do!

The magnificent 27 piece ceramic bas relief with symbols of ancient Rome and the ancients by Luzzati once again, is a serious piece of ceramic art that once graced the MV Victoria. In a modern day setting this would be a great focal point in any grand modern building. Personally I would like it as a feature wall in a completely over the top bathroom.

If your budget or space constrictions are a little stretched for the whole 27 pieces, individual ceramics such as the one below might suit you better.

The fabulous little tables below are from the Windsor Castle and are brass, mahogany and melamine. The melamine top almost looks like porcelain. To say that I want one is an understatement! They seem a bit out of place in their original setting, however on their own or with the right chair they would be fabulous.

So visit and have a look at what Peter has to offer.

*Many thanks to Peter for allowing me to use his photos.

Plagues and Savoir Faire???

On Saturday while dodging torrential downpours in the morning in Toronto, I made a beeline for the Annual Outdoor Art Exhibition at City Hall. It can be a bit too much with well over 500 artists represented in all mediums, from painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography.

I came across a young woman photographer whose work (particularly one series of photos) which I have not been able to get out my mind. Over the centuries we have become used to artists portraying every possible scene and character out of the bible. From the high renaissance to surrealism, everyone has had a go. Toronto photographer Talia Shipman chose as her inspiration Moses and the ten plagues of Egypt, to create an incredible series of 10 photographs, that compare the plagues with problems facing a 21st century society. These photographs draw you in, and I was immediately captivated by them. The body of work is aptly named “EXODUS: The Ten Plagues”

The works are listed as follows;




Beasts/Gun Proliferation

Cattle Disease/ Hormone, GMO’s


Hail /Climate Change

Locusts/Urban Sprawl

Darkness/media Filter

Slaying of the Firstborn/Loss of Childhood Innocence

Although they are dense with themes, and connotations that question the dark side of the human condition, they are incredibly simplistic in their approach. After initially viewing the photos we start questioning their themes and also the style itself. The two men are brothers (in real life) and represent Moses and Cain, however personally I think that there is a fine line between whether they are perpetrators or victims. They seem almost malevolent and carry with themselves a sense of foreboding, while seeming increasingly innocent. This adds to man’s vulnerability in our modern day and age, and questions us to take responsibility for our own actions. Like Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt we have a choice and depending on the choice we make, we take the consequences. “By re-interpreting the ‘Old Testament into a contemporary framework Shipman presents us with a doctrine we can relate to and perhaps abide by”

I know that plagues and savoir faire don’t really go together however here is a body of work I would love to have hanging on my walls!

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