Like ships plying the trade routes, emotions take us from one continent to another. The year 2020 was a breaking point. The pandemic swallowed up our world, the former open world. The explosion of digital communications, electronic messages and video conferences and the imposition of preventive measures and social distancing have created abyssal fractures in human relations.

It is difficult to imagine going back to a past time. Once the shock of the first months had passed, the pandemic rolled on relentlessly. Emotions were confined as months passed. At Marfret, we could not get used to carrying out our shipping business without the contact with others, with the foreigner for whom we carry essential and non-essential goods. The meeting of ship and quayside has an almost sacred quality at port call, the ship’s rendezvous with its cargo.

Once the goods are on board, the ship leaves the coast behind, the separation is complete. The land-dwelling consumers erase the weeks at sea from their minds, in denial of the whole maritime adventure. Containers do not teleport themselves along submarine cables just yet!

Our everyday heroes, the personnel on shore and crews onboard ship have never failed. Together they have made sure departures, arrivals, port calls and sailing frequencies all went to schedule. We at Marfret do not believe our job merely consists of transporting goods from A to B in a mechanical, functional way -goods that, paradoxically, have never been so plentiful since the end of 2020.  This measure of emotion, close to our hearts and upon which all human activity is founded, at Marfret we find it in our work with artists.

On board the Marfret Guyane, painter, photographer and video artist Yvan Salomone spent 42 days at one with the container ship. Giving free rein to his imagination, his watercolours reveal an infinite palette of emotions. His poetic underlying theme takes us into the world of the watchkeeper. With his artist’s sensitivity, he conjures up the crashing of waves, the deafening rumble and vibrations of the Marfret Guyane’s engines as it speeds through the ocean at 20 knots laden with 22,000 tonnes of cargo. The odd man out of the voyage, he knew how to keep a low prog=file among the crewmembers, a chameleon capturing the seamen’s variable-pitch emotions. The book “42 Days”, comprising text, photos and 12 watercolours, is the fruit of his double Atlantic crossing. A film was also made during the journey.

In these dehumanizing times, in which the government has left culture behind, teetering on the brink, artists have a crucial role to play. They can help us get through these difficult moments in which we are losing our bearings. In this dawning year, let us set our course and hold the helm firm in the hope of better times to come.

May we wish you, and those close to you, a very Happy New Year.