7 February 2014
Artist Pippa Blake, a keen follower of the Tara’s adventures, is the widow of sir Peter Blake who was the previous owner of the polar schooner, then called Seamaster…
Can we frustrate fate? Avoid the inevitable? Pippa Blake continues to ask her self such questions. Especially since that fateful day, Wednesday 6 December 2001, shortly after 10 p.m. Since that terrible–inconceivable–moment at Macapa on the north bank of the River Amazon when her husband, the great Kiwi yachtsman Peter Blake, who was leading an expedition aboard his sailing ship the Seamaster, was attacked along with his crew by a gang of armed pirates (known locally as « The Water Rats ») and killed as he tried to defend himself. He was fifty-three. How, after such a trauma, can one forgive life, ease the pain, heal?
Over the last decade Lady Blake, an elegant woman with large eyes, has been painting certain themes more often than she once did. These include man’s taste for destruction, nature gone haywire, earthly follies, chaos… In her studio in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, she paints pictures of a rare beauty, ones that are fragile, bitter, and sometimes unexpectedly violent. She paints terrorism, the impact of an earthquake, war, destruction… all of these transcended by a semi-abstract approach. Solitude and sadness also find expression in her brush strokes… When I suggested that her paintings fascinate by their beauty*, she replied: «Do you think so? I’m not sure. But I need to hear such words, it’s true. It helps me see more clearly. »
When she is not painting Pippa Blake delights in watching her two children grow up; her son James, a natural history filmmaker and ocean rower about to film great white sharks off the coast of Mexico. Her daughter Sarah-Jane, an experimental theatre designer and artist has just sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific. She has also been following the sea-going adventures of her husband’s old sailing ship since 2003. «I was so happy to learn that Étienne (Bourgois), Agnès (Troublé) and their team had taken on the Seamaster, originally of course Jean-Louis Étienne’s Antarctica (1990–1996), and made her the Tara. It wasn’t through a lack of potential buyers, there were plenty of them. But only Étienne and Agnès had a vision comparable to Peter’s. The actions they intended to take were, in a way, an extension of his. But I am also delighted the team running the Tara keeps me posted about what they do, even today. The link is there. I miss nothing of their adventures. I know what the Tara is doing and where she is.» And perhaps by the same, Peter’s spirit?
Pippa Blake insists that her husband, the hero of New Zealand, would be «happy» to know that his sailing ship was carrying out regular expeditions to study the impact of climate change. «Yes, Peter would be happy. Because the managers of Tara Expeditions are a great bunch and do their job well. They are bringing science and adventure to the most important question of all: global warming. Too many people, like our politicians in the UK, feel little or no concern for this issue [...]. So I’m proud the Tara is still sailing the oceans in pursuit of Peter’s dreams. The ship is doing crucial work for the planet. The future of the world depends on such missions if we are to change our course…» Pippa Blake pauses, and then adds with confidence: «You know, I must tell you this. When Peter was sailing around the world, he was with a crew. And his crew was just like a family. And, today, I can see that the team running Tara Expeditions is a big family too! »
Lady Blake is equal to her title.More informations
Michel Temman, editor-in-chief of the Tara’s newspaper “special 10 years”