The Seychelles and its people are often described as a ‘melting pot of cultures’ – originally settled in the 18th century by Europeans who brought African slaves to work on their plantations, the 19th century saw Indian, Chinese and Arabic traders arrive on the islands as well as free settlers from around the globe. The result of our blended history and people, is the rich tapestry of artistic creativity that attracts an eclectic mix of artists and sculptors who can best be described as quirky and bohemian.
In the first of our “Local Art Spotlight” we introduce you to George Camille, a self taught local artist who has dazzled the world with bold, bright, beautiful and quirky depictions of daily island life here in the Seychelles.
George Camille was born on the main island of Mahe in 1963 and spent his childhood on the island of La Digue. Initially self taught, Camille later developed his eclectic yet distinctive style through more formal tuition, including periods of study at Blackheath College of Art and Goldsmiths College, both in London.
A number of important collaborative friendships with fellow artists also helped to focus Camille’s direction as an artist, most notably his work with ‘Tonga Bill’ Fehoko, the Martinique artist Habdaphai and the French artist Mikel Chaussepied, who introduced Camille to the techniques of etching – today a key element in the artist’s work.
In his own words, George describes how is work is inspired by the stunning natural beauty of the Seychelles;
“Since I was born and continue to live and work in Seychelles it is the Indian Ocean environment that permeates, drives and informs everything that I do…… much of my work is dominated by natural form and rhythm. Patterns manifest and reveal themselves, motifs ebb and flow, rivers discharge into seas, leaves and seeds fall softly and men and fish swim with irreversible momentum across canvas and paper” – George Camille
You can view and purchase works by George Camille on the main islands of Mahe and La Digue at Kaz Zanana Gallery and The Green House Gallery, both of which are stunning examples of traditional Creole architecture;
George Camille Gallery @ Kaz Zanana
Located on Revolution Avenue, close to the centre of Victoria, the Kaz Zanana building provides a unique and appropriate environment for George’s main gallery space in Seychelles. Originally constructed entirely from local hardwood in 1915, the property was sympathetically restored by master craftsman, Mr. Louis Volcere, in 1997. The resulting gallery – a building of national significance in its own right – houses a permanent collection of George’s work as well as a range of original canvases, assemblages, embossed coppers and limited edition prints that are for sale. Come for a browse, or enjoy lunch or drinks in a very special, traditional Creole setting.
George Camille Studio and Gallery @ The Green House
Opened in 2008, the La Digue studio and gallery presents George’s work on the island of his youth. When not on Mahe, George utilizes his La Digue studio space, which can be visited by appointment. The gallery space displays a wide range of original contemporary work, offering something for every taste and setting. Located in the north of the island, adjacent to beaches that are both serene and spectacular, the gallery nestles in what George describes as the most beautiful part of La Digue.
If you don’t have the room in your suitcase to take home on of his beautiful works, then be sure to at least take home one of his stunning and colourful postcards? Framed these postcards makes for a lovely addition to any travellers home and a wonderful memento of a fantastic island holiday.
Credit: George Camille Studio Website (georgecamille.sc)