Art: Making it
Georges Camille, artist and gallery owner, explains what it takes to become a successful and established artist in Seychelles.
Passionate artist Georges Camille
Have you ever wondered how much energy it would take to set up your own gallery and exhibition when you don’t know what the reception will be? Like most people, you would probably think it’s all about the art. In your mind’s eye, perhaps you waltz through gallery doors, gaze at the works and simply think that all concepts and manifestations appearing on the walls involve no other combinations. Right? Not even close. Sure, a gallery needs a specialised artist with a unique vision, iconography, mythology and inspiration, but there’s more to it than that.
George Camille was born in Seychelles in 1963 and spent his childhood on idyllic La Digue, the island that is the source of his inspiration. He went on to study art for a professional degree at Blackheath College of Art and Goldsmith’s College, both in London in the United Kingdom.
London as a cosmopolitan city, gave Camille first hand experience of the variety of cultures and range of artistic works. Over time these experiences intensified his interest in art, encouraging his own authentic style and state-of-the-art creations in Seychelles. In fact, so many have described this man as a visionary – a successful artist possessing a three dimensional focus rather than just staying on the surface of things.
Camille is a proud and committed individual, and shows great sincerity when he talks about retaining the bloodline of his Chinese ancestry. He believes that he owes his success to his parents who instilled a strong work ethic within him and added discipline to his life and are the foundations of his ability to produce prolifically.
Equally, Camille was fortunate enough to work with some prominent figures who perfected and influenced his art. These included the sculptor, “Tonga Bill” Fehoko, the Martinique artist Habdaphai and the French artist Mikel Chaussepied. It was the latter who presented Camille with the technique of etching – a key element in his work today.
In 1987 he created “Sunstroke”, a design studio specialising in screen printing, hand painted textiles and crafts. At the time it was Camille’s biggest project and he employed approximately 34 people. From Sunstroke, the talented artist and his wife went on to create ranges of beach wear, t-shirts and other fashion accessories. Camille looks upon screen printing as a valuable form of art that allows “looseness to the technique”, by mixing colours together.
This successful initiative was followed in 1997 by the restoration of an old wooden colonial house, namely Kaz Zanana. It was the venue for Camille’s first personal gallery in Seychelles. This was a springboard to showcase his art form to a wider audience. Many remain unaware that Camille’s first commercial venture was from a small stall located in Victoria Market, selling clothes as well as his fine local craft.
Today in Seychelles you cannot escape Camille’s art. His work is found in most parts of the islands; from five-star hotels to small guest houses as well as restaurants. The artist has staged numerous exhibitions including “one man” and group shows in Martinique, China, Germany, London, Paris and Reunion. Camille now has two galleries located on Mahe and a third at Anse Gaullette on La Digue. His work has also achieved commercial success with various organisations such as Seybrew and Cable & Wireless, where they hang proudly. Camille’s technical abilities were always evident. “Since a very young age, it’s the only thing I have ever done, and I’ve always wanted to make it work for myself. Being an artist you have to make difficult decisions and you need perseverance to grow in this industry. As a youth you need to express the willingness to learn; cultivate qualities like dedication, respect and endurance. First and foremost, people value and comprehend your work when you pass on a sincere message”, Camille says with conviction.
To Camille, art is like a friend with many layers – it is a playground of ideas and combinations of elements. This could involve your surrounding environment and emotions. However, he cautions that it is much wiser to paint from intuition as it can enhance creativity. To this extent his work is self-referencing; experimenting with past ideas and images into his new work. His recent works incorporate pieces of “objet trouve” which sees the artist playing enthusiastically with metals and recycled items.
To stage an exhibition, Camille focuses on a specific theme or subject matter. Influences come from many sources and it can take three or four years to assemble a full exhibition.
Mr. Camille specialises in etchings, watercolours, acrylics, reliefs, collages, as well as pencil and pastel drawing. To aspiring artists, Camille says that choosing art is a brave choice and one has to have a long term vision as recognition can be very elusive.
Source: Today.sc 3-21-16