In 2016, Stephan Vanfleteren made portraits of boys at the family replacement boarding school Royal Work IBIS in Bredene, Belgium. IBIS offers children between the ages of six and sixteen a place to grow up, a maritime education and a future. These boys – and recently girls, too – are often marked by a complex past. For them, IBIS serves as a safe haven where in the spirit of the long-standing maritime tradition, structure and human warmth are paramount.
You can see Vanfleteren’s series in our exhibition Angels of the Sea at Het Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam, our partner in this production. We also searched various archives for a moving story about saying goodbye to mother, sleeping in a hammock, peeling potatoes and a future on the world’s oceans. In a warm coat with shiny buttons with anchors – the symbol of hope for salvation.
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