WOOD

They are the last free men, the hunters who get out every morning with their traps, sail out hoping that this would be the catch of a lifetime, those who don't understand how somebody can struggle the whole year to take care of a crop which can disappear under the hail, those who sleep on the deck of their boat, under the clear sky of the Aegean.

Lluís Ferrés Gurt, Secrets of the Mediterranean

During the 90 percent of our history as human beings on Planet Earth we were depending on the catch of the day, using tools made by our own hands, living in houses built by ourselves. The wood, the most versatile natural material, takes us back to this era in which the producer, the provider and the user were condensed in the same individual and the specialisation of tasks was yet to come.

 

ALEXANDRIA

banzo, barca (barka), bastasia, bastassiza (bastasika), batel, bergantinus (brigantin), biremis, barcon, barcosa, barcusius (bragoc), carabus (korablja), caraca, carachia, casselata, chelandia, cocha, codura, drievo, dromo, frigada, fusta, galea (galija), galion (galiun), grippus (grip), gumbara, kravela, katraga, ladja, lembus, legno, lignum, linter, londra, marziliana, navicula, navigium, navis, ormanica, plav, saeta, sagittea, saita, saena, sebeka, tartana, treciones, triremis, zolla, zopula

Mediterranean names of boats. Augustin Jal, Glossaire Nautique

In the shipyards of the Anfushi neighbourhood of Alexandria of Egypt fishing boats and modern yachts are still hand built entirely with wood, following designs and techniques that were brought by the Greeks, during their century long settlement on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean.

 

CANNITELLO

The Greek inheritance is also present in Cannitello, on the shores of Calabria, former Magna Grecia, where swordfish are still caught by harpoon, using bizarre wood vessels, the passerelle, built by the few families that preserve this tradition. It's a one on one hunt, more than fishing, which reminds the primordial life-style of the Pelasgians, the hunters/collectors inhabiting the Mediterranean area during the Neolithic.

 

ALEXANDRIA / CATANIA

Quay, port, pier or deck, central square or market place, shipyard or fish shop, fountain or lighthouse, church, monastery, or cemetery, the sea itself — they can all become open-air stages, backdrops for all kinds of roles, trivial and fateful, all kinds of rituals, quotidian and eternal. The centuries teem with these scenes and events. They are the past and the present of the Mediterranean, the history of its theatre.

Predrag Matvejevic, Mediterranean, a cultural landscape

 

CEUTA

When we see bad weather we all kneel down on the deck and pray to the Virgin del Carme. There have been people who, after praying to her, have drowned and reappeared alive. A father and a son arrived in the port holding on to a tank whilst all the other sailors died. That is why people have faith in the Virgin.

Augustin El Canario, 72, fisherman in Ceuta

 

GOKOVA BAY

Once upon a time, when the Greeks were still living in our land, a woman was appointed to prepare the baits for her husband, a fisherman. When he was out fishing she never missed the chance to invite over her secret lover. The husband, after having cast the baits,

was coming home too soon. So the woman started to prepare hundreds of baits, hung on hundreds of hooks, connected to kilometers of thread, so that the husband would stay out fishing all day long. That’s how the “paragat” / the long line fishing / was born.

Mehmet, fisherman in Akyaka

If swordfishing is an expertise handed down from father to son in Calabria, fishing is a women's business in the Bay of Gokova, Turkey, where lives the only community of fisherwomen of the Mediterranean Sea. This tradition started in the mid 20th Century, when the Greeks living in Turkey, traditionally in charge of fishing, where pushed out of the country. The gypsies and afro communities populating Gokova filled the gap and undertook the job in the bay, teemed with fish. Due to peculiar characters of the local communities the fishery went under the control of the women, which are owners of their wooden boats and the ones in charge of the fishery, while husbands are selling the fish and doing other subsidiary tasks. They spend months fishing along the bay, in a sort of nautical nomadism, living and raising their children on the boat, depending on nobody but themselves. Are they the last free women?

CALA GONONE / ORGOSOLO

We've had fire since the beginning of times, and goats since 10.000 years ago. Moreover it has been thousand of years that we've been cutting down forests to set up crops and grazing lands, building houses with wooden beams, burning wood and coal in houses, ovens, foundries and boilers. Our landscapes show more than just traces of our footprints, they show the scars of our kicks and punches.

Lluís Ferres Gurt, Secretos del Mediterraneo