Renamed "Our Spice Islands" for the occasion, the exhibition initially deployed in 2017-2018 at the Bibliothèque de la Cité in Geneva (the main public library) opened on January 3, 2019 in Cape Town, in the Luggage Hall of the V & A Waterfront, in the immediate vicinity of the boat moored at Quay 6. The exhibition is a first because it's the first time it is deployed outside Geneva as part of a stopover of the expedition.
As in Geneva though made of soft fabric somehow looking like sails, panels display the spirit and the different facets of the expedition, while videos of the history of Fleur de Passion or documentaries along the world bring additional perspectives to the project. In addition to the presence of the sailboat who is open in parallel to public visits as at each stopover, the novelty of the exhibition compared to Geneva is the staging of the cultural component of the expedition, and in particular the work of the 17 artists who have succeeded one another on board since the departure from Seville. Their drawings, sketches, watercolors or engravings are grouped into eight facsimiles of about fifty pages each, which visitors are invited to browse at their own pace. A short biography of the author with a map showing their navigation "in residence" as part of the expedition help to introduce the local audience to the Swiss-Geneva tradition in terms of comics and illustration.
Another special feature is that children are invited to participate in a drawing contest on the theme of the oceans and the first young visitors were enthusiastic about the game. Swiss and South African cartoonists Alex Baladi and Anton Kannenmeyer will be on the jury.
The exhibition is free access every day until January 24, without interruption from 10am to 6pm.
The exhibition was supported by the Office of Culture of the Canton of Geneva, the Swiss Embassy in South Africa and the Consulate General in Cape Town, as well as Pro Helvetia. May they be warmly thanked here.
The presence of South African cartoonist Anton Kannenmeyer aboard Fleur de Passion hasn’t gone unnoticed by the local media. The internationally renowned author had embarked for a week at the end of November-early December 2018 in Mossel Bay, just before Cape Town. And the Afrikaans daily newspaper Die Burger collected the impressions of the man who made himself famous for his squeaky satires of the social and political reality of his country.
His drawings made on board will be visible in facsimile form as part of the exhibition "Our Spice Islands" that will open 3 to January 24, 2019 during the stopover at V & A Waterfront in Cape Town from - like those of all the other comic strip authors and illustrators - mainly Swiss - who have embarked from the departure in Seville.
From January 7th to 12th, Anton will come aboard once or twice to participate in one of the comic book workshops that will be organized in the presence of the Swiss author Alex Baladi, one of the seventeen authors of the expedition to date.
The four South-African learners who joined the expedition for a week at Mossel Bay share their impression and thoughts after such a once-in-a-lifetime experience on board Fleur de Passion.
« The reason I am so happy about this is because I believe that there is so much to learn and also so much to experience. I also love the ocean because there is so much that we don’t see… only when we start loving it we must find ways on how to protect it…. » Zainabo Anzuruni (18 years old), Gansbaai Academia Learners
« This was a wonderful opportunity and I am forever grateful. I am on the water since I was 3 years old…have almost 1 000 hours on the water. As a family we live from the ocean… we make our living from it. I love the ocean and know we must take care of it. » Caitlin Van Eeden (15 years old), Gansbaai Academia Learners
« I am from the Eastern Cape and never thought this opportunity will come my way. I am so grateful for CapeNature and my school and Switzerland. I will remember this for ever. » Phumelela Siweni (17 years old), Gansbaai Academia Learners
« I am grateful for this trip as we learned about the ocean, we also had the opportunity to meet new amazing people that have been all over the world and who shared their vast knowledge with us. I love the ocean because it is one of the most amazing communities with so many species in the ocean and still so many for us to learn about. It is up to us to preserve this wonderful example of biodiversity for future generations to come. » Kyle Saville ( 17 years old), Generation Schools Hermanus Learner
The project was organized with CapeNature, a public institution mandated to promote and ensure biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape, with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa (Science and Technology Division). It was put in place to promote South African youth members who have an interest in marine life to interact with youth from Switzerland. And to experience life at sea while working as a team in assisting with taking samples and learning more about ocean and marine life.
CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar is positive that this opportunity has provided learners with the platform to shape their future careers and impact their young lives forever. « Our hearts are full and it is inspiring to see the faces and hear the testimonies of how this experience has impacted their lives. The Ocean Mapping Expedition lead by Geneva-based non-profit Fondation Pacifique is doing exceptional work and we are honoured to have partnered on this initiative. CapeNature’s community conservation teams work very closely with the schools and youth in the areas surrounding our nature reserves in the Western Cape. Therefore, this collaboration was an obvious fit as it is part of our core mandate to nurture the skills and passion in marine science from an early age and provide access to our marine protected areas, rivers and estuaries for educational purposes. »
Dr David Glassom from KwaZulu-Natal University was on board Fleur de Passion from Durban to Knysna in November 2018 in the frame of his research on the use of plastic debris by juvenile fish as potential for species migrations or invasions in a time of global change. We met him in Durban in early October when the expedition was invited to participate in a two-day workshop organized by the South African Institute on Environmental Health, with the support of the embassy of Switzerland. And very soon, it appeared that the rest of journey along the West coast of South Africa towards Cape Town would be an interesting opportunity for him to explore further the phenomenon.
As Dr Glassom explains, « the potential of flotsam as vectors for long-distance migration for a variety of sessile organisms is well established. However, there is far less information on fish. Juvenile fish are known to shelter under plastic debris and a number of species have been recorded under debris in waters off Durban using a simple scoop net. Species range shifts or range expansions are already evident as a consequence of rising sea surface temperature due to global warming, and migrations could be facilitated by the availability of debris for shelter and possible nutrition from biofilms growing on the plastic. »
But before he can share initial results, let’s join David on board Fleur de Passion to experiment through his own words his « first trip on a large sailing vessel and one of (his) greatest experiences ».
« I was a bit nervous, as I am known to get seasick at times. But I took tablets for the entire journey and they worked – I felt no sickness at all. Travelling under sail was unique – the motion is completely different from being under engine power. Raising the sails, tacking the ship (no winches or mod-cons, just pulling on the ropes), was like living a boyhood fantasy. Although Pietro (skipper) did not assign me to specific shifts (my main job was cook’s assistant), I did link up with Candy (second mate and scientific coordinator) and Francois (passenger from Geneva) and tried to join their shifts at the helm. Learning to steer the Fleur was quite a steep curve – the first time I tried it, the rest of the crew must have been very confused, we were doing a zig-zag pattern while I tried to figure out the way the ship would respond. Steering under sail for the first time was a whole new learning curve, as keeping the right angle to get the wind in the sails was a bit of a challenge.
The accommodation was comfortable (the boat wasn’t full, so I had a cabin to myself). The food, compliments mainly of Pierre (cook) was fantastic and I found the entire crew really friendly and hospitable, not to mention professional and, even without any sailing experience I could see that they were highly competent. It was great especially to learn the history of the Foundation Pacifique from Pietro, who, it turns out, helped someone I know do research on whales many years ago. Communication was a bit of a problem; most of the crew spoke English, but a few didn’t and my French is non-existent – I did pick up a few words and phrases along the way.
Between Durban and East London, we were a bit far offshore to really see the coast, but from then on we were in view of the coast most of the time. I have never seen that part of the coast from the sea before, so that was also a new experience for me. The last part of the trip was really special – we were close to the coast and the cliffs between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna are really spectacular. Going through the entrance to Knysna lagoon (known as the Knysna Heads), was a bit nerve-wracking, with cliffs on one side, breaking surf on the other and a narrow channel that is just deep enough for the draft of the Fleur. A friendly guy from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) gave us some helpful guidance.
We had to periods of sitting at anchor, for a couple of days each – once in the estuary at East London and once in the sea off Plettenberg Bay. These times were a bit frustrating, but made as pleasant as possible by a bit of wildlife / bird watching and they gave me the chance to do some sampling for plastic close to shore. »
At Knysna in late November 2018, David had to leave the boat due his need to back in office. But while on board, he had briefed the crew so that more samplings could be made until Cape Town.