Byenal Sesel 2022 – Lost & Found – A review

Coincidence is one of those fine things, often connecting the lost with the found. And so it was, when I met Martin Kennedy and Mariaan at the Eden Island Art Gallery, where they insisted on this exhibition being seen.

How right they were, for this is the best thing that has happened in Seychelles during the last two years; a period that has been too often treated as a hiatus of adversity and misfortune. Not so for Europe, which has boldly implemented many social infrastructure and ecological projects; with many of our artists here too, having courageously seen this as an opportunity.

The Chinese Cultural Centre housed some outstanding works by local and international artists, putting Seychelles up there among some of the best African and European artisans. There were two that particularly caught the eye and more. One by Sheila Markham was quite phenomenal, depicting our islands in their virgin state, enveloped in tropical light in the top three panels, while the lower three depict our current depravity due to the obsessive trappings of our modern age. The dark and heavy period that we are currently going through, due to the pandemic of addictions such as excessive wealth, substance abuse, corruption and obesity.

Another was by Leon Radegonde, a hanging canvas presumably of linen and hessian, stained and creatively marked. Perhaps started with a kiss!!!

Now, what stands out in these two remarkable pieces by Sheila & Leon is that on close examination they are two-dimensional, while viewed a few metres back they take on their commendable 3D form. Then after a period of contemplation one is invited upon a journey to the 4th dimension. Both works have soul and depict the artists’ spirit, even though Sheila’s work has this dialectic tension as it pulls one in two directions simultaneously – from the spiritual light of the past to our current age of debasement.

The museum exhibited Ola Sivhed’s Swedish crystal works entitled T4e which is a league of its own, depicting installations of EARTH, WATER, FIRE & AIR.


The synchronization here of film and music was quite extraordinary and almost took one’s breath away, not to mention the professional execution of the pieces. Quite clearly the winner to take first prize. But no, it failed to get any award!

Given the high quality of the exhibits it is apparent that we need a permanent gallery and some of those exceptional works purchased, both local and international. In the interim this could be housed on the two floors of the Carnegie Hall, giving it a much desired and advantageous breath of new life.

Martin Kennedy and Vivienne Croisee, together with the NACC team and sponsors must be applauded for their professionalism in facing up to what must have been a daunting task at times. The result has been a great success, appreciated by locals and tourists alike. Perhaps the next biennale of contemporary art will be along the theme of something like: THE END TIMES – AND TOWARDS UTOPIA. For there has to be light at the end of the tunnel!

Given that cultured events attract the cultured intelligentsia and that Europe has embraced in a win-win scenario audience/viewers participation, it would appear most appropriate and opportune to have the visitors assess the artwork displayed. One that would require confidentiality, with the democratic and surprise award results not known until the last day of the exhibition.

Courtesy: James Warren Des RCA

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