The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seascapes splashed in colours of rising sun

Nature’s beauty from dawn to dusk, cityscapes and sealife, people and places in distant corners of the world. These sailors have travelled round the earth and back, and the images they have frozen in time is stuff that dreams are made of. The exhibition, which is on at the Academy of Fine Arts till Sunday, offers a glimpse into seafarers’ lives — the joy, loneliness, hard work and adventure.

Diving dolphins in Panama. Playful seals “sliding up and down” the prow of a ship on the Argentinian coast. Seagulls sunbathing on deck in Canada. Sunsets in Manila and the Suez Canal in brilliant hues of red. A sunrise in England Bay, Canada, in a “harmony of orange”. Friendly faces on the Ivory Coast, Egypt and the Caribbean. The dazzling lights and impressive skylines of Hong Kong, Singapore, Seattle and New York. The pristine picture of a small town in Norway covered in snow. A patch of isolated sand with a lighthouse amidst turquoise waters in Indonesia, a rainbow in Germany…

‘Beyond the horizon — A vision of world peace through the eyes of sailors’ began in 1987, with Japanese sailors, members of the Soka Gakkai Hatokai organisation, exhibiting pictures they had taken on their travels, to spread the message of ‘unity in diversity’. Eight countries, 15 years, 52 venues and 68 exhibitions later, the endeavour is still going strong.

Over 1,000 officers, all amateur photographers, have participated in the project, ranging from ranks of boatswain, purser, sailor, officer, radio officer and captain. However, when it comes to the exhibition, they are all “sailors with hearts”, trying to paint a picture of a “beautiful world”, smiles captain Koichi Hatakeyama.

Keeping stable in a snowstorm, watching out for signs of life after months of loneliness at sea, waiting for letters from families, activities on ship, like mending a machine, dropping anchor and chipping stubborn ice off the deck — everything has been captured with a click. But above all, placid waters, reflecting everything as clearly as a mirror, big waves, a water spout touching the sky, clouds clearing after a storm — surrounded by the magic of the seven seas, the enigma that is nature looms large.

Some of the sailors are out to sea, and have not been able to make it to Calcutta for the show. “They keep coming and going, as and when possible,” explains officer Yasunori Mikami. “We are all seamen first, and have to join our vessels when required. Timing the disembarkation with the exhibitions is difficult. But we have managed so far, and will continue our efforts.”

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