Drypoint on 240gsm Arches etching paper, 2009, Ed 25. by Chris Diedericks

The drypoint Somali Pirates deals with the recent spate of piracy in the world and especially on the east coast of Africa. After a recent trip to Madagascar and a visit to Pirate Island just of the Isle St Marie, I was inspired to make a work specifically investigating the dystopian “vultures of the sea”. A visit to the Pirate’s Cemetery acted as a further creative spark, especially tombstones with the typical scull and cross bone motives to mark the last resting place of many (in) famous men. This new spill- out of piracy all over the world fits very well within the context of my deep interest in Dystopia.

Piracy is a war-like act committed by a non-state actor, especially robbery or criminal violence committed at sea, on a river, or sometimes on shore. It does not normally include crimes on board a vessel among passengers or crew. Pirates often had a system of hierarchy on board their ships determining how captured money was distributed. However, pirates were more “egalitarian” than any other area of employment with a high degree of equality. In fact pirate quartermasters were a counterbalance to the captain and had the power to veto his orders. The majority of plunder was in the form of cargo and ships equipment with medicines the most highly prized. Jewels were common plunder but not popular as they were hard to sell and pirates, unlike the public of today, had little concept of their value. There is one case recorded where a pirate was given a large diamond worth a great deal more than the value of the handful of small diamonds given his crewmates as a share. He felt cheated and had it broken up to match what they received.

However, the work Somali Pirates investigates the concept of piracy from a very different angle.