Arts symposium closes with various presentations


Delegates listening to a presentation at the close of the symposium

The symposium, under the theme “Advancing the arts”, was inaugurated on Monday by the Minister for Social Development and Culture, Bernard Shamlaye, who announced the creation of an Arts Village soon. It will comprise an art gallery, a theatre, open-air auditorium, resources centre, conference facilities and accommodation for artists in residence programmes.

Speaking on the visual arts before the closing, artist George Camille welcomed the setting up of the Arts Village which will include a gallery. He said that the one that exists is no more and exhibitions are stuck up for space.

He said the visual arts are “alive and well” and it is an industry providing employment to a significant number of Seychellois.

He noted that public schools’ curricula have art classes in both primary and secondary establishments.

He added however that the number of scholarships for more advanced studies in art has dwindled and fewer exhibitions are being held, apparently due to the non-existence of a proper exhibition hall.

As such, there is no showcasing of national art collections and visitors can only view private galleries.

Mr Camille also cited the lack of good material for painting as a weakness which needs to be addressed.

He noted that there is no curator in Seychelles and hardly any arts journalists and critics, which means the progress of art is not being gauged.

Ms Sheila Markham, a painter from Praslin, said that the National Library lacks documentation on the arts. She said the NAC website should have a regularly updated page on every artist.

Ms Markham said art fairs and biennales should be organised regularly to stimulate interest in art.  She added that not enough is being done at national level to nurture  the interest in young and upcoming artists, with the result that many opt out and take up some other activity.

Emmanuel D’Offay said fashion has not been adequately protected in Seychelles. While admitting there is a need for evolution, he said that has been rather negative, with foreign influences creeping in with a tendency to get women more scantily dressed.

According to Mr D’Offay, that is the reason why Seychellois girls taking part in  international beauty pageants have problems getting dressed in their traditional costumes. “That is because such a dress no longer exists”.

He also deplored the popular belief that only slim girls can do any modelling. “Once again, we are under-estimating the ability of most Seychellois women”.

At the closing, concern was also voiced at the lack of locally produced literary material.
One speaker said most publications on Seychelles, whether tourism guides or just coffee table books, were produced by foreigners. He compared Seychelles with Mauritius, where such publications come out regularly, all the work of Mauritians.

On literature itself, emphasis was laid on the need to produce more publications in Creole - the mother tongue.

An estimated 50 Seychellois presently write novels and other works. It was felt there is a large scope for improvement.

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