Following up on last week’s announcement of our new collab with WAX Magazine, we have another exciting partnership to tell you about. Paper Sea Quarterly is another quarterly ocean- and art-focused print publication that we think is telling some really amazing stories. Based in Australia, PSQ “started as a simple recognition of the need for change.” The Paper Sea Three, as they like to call themselves, gather together intelligent, creative men and women with an appreciation for hand-crafted quality to showcase under different themes each quater. This is the Friendship issue, and in this article, painter Kare Martins gathers his dad’s pirate friends to create an incredible series of paintings that captures the extent to which the sailor’s life can erode the human body. The artist introduces us to the work with some stories about the men and their journeys. Check back next quarter to see what PSQ finds to share with us, and be sure to order your copies here: http://papersea.com.au/products-page/issue/
OCEANS IN MY BLOOD
A SERIES OF PAINTINGS BY KÅRE MARTENS
Kåre Martens contacted PSQ and we fell in love with his beautifully melancholic paintings of sailors beaten by years at sea and even longer lost to the bottle. Inspired by his father’s stories Kåre set about creating a series of paintings documenting the cost paid by many who spend their lives intertwined with the ocean.
When I create paintings my ideas come from the head, not the gut. The head is all about reasoning and responding to a particular problem. The ideas that come from the gut, however, are more intuitive, more an expression of past experiences, not something that can necessarily be controlled. I painted this series from the gut. My father was a sailor. Like many young men of his generation who lived on the Norwegian coast, he started on a commercial ship and travelled the world when he was fifteen years old. I know him to be a fairly straight-laced man but the stories that pop out now and then are incredible and seem out of tune with who he is today.
One day I was flipping through his vinyl collection and I pulled out a beat up old Beatles album. When I ask him about it he simply said, ‘Oh, that. I got it at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, I saw them play live there when I was fifteen.
And that was the end of it. There seemed to be no need to elaborate. One time in Casablanca he had a wild night out in the harbour before his ship was due to sail the next morning. He missed his ship because, ‘Well…I spent the night with the American ambassador’s wife and couldn’t get away any earlier.’ Again, that was the end of that story.
He ended up in jail in Murmansk, Russia, when he and some of his crew mates realised that they didn’t have enough money to cover the bar tab and their escape plan didn’t work out.
These stories helped me realise that the world was infinitely larger when my father sailed the seas. Then, international travel was usually a luxury or business necessity not a recreation as we enjoy it today. The sailors who went to sea were from tiny towns along the coast and they sailed because it was in their blood and because it was the best alternative to being stuck in a small town. They travelled the seas, saw the biggest and most beautiful cities in the world, fell in love, broke teeth and hearts, suffered some scars and many had memories of their journeys tattooed for posterity.
After the excitement, they returned home to their sleepy towns, their eyes opened by the world, completely changed. The towns they came home to hadn’t changed and were content in relative slumber. These worldly seafarers were met with fear and rejection from the locals, stranded at home without the excitement or intrigue they had become accustomed to breathing. My father talks about men from his hometown who never managed to adjust to life on land. Their lives were forged and spent at sea and that is where their skills and knowledge were respected. They did not fare well off the seas. Many of them returned home only to drown on land.This series explores the search for deeper understanding and immersion with the sea. Sailors come the closest to achieving that and these paintings are ultimately about that bodily connection with the ocean.