Vintage Mauritius – Through the Ages

Vintage Mauritius – Through the Ages

I was introduced to award-winning fine art photographer, Chris Simpson, by Toto Ghoorah, the then manager of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) UK in 1998. It was the year that Susie Freeman Travel was born, so I commissioned him to provide some stunning pictures of the island for our brochure.

Chris grew up on the Mauritian Island, which tuned him into the beauty of light, shape and form. He spent nearly 20 years as a successful fashion photographer, working for the likes of Vogthrouue, before capturing the world in black and white.

‘Mauritius is the country that I love and feel most at home in. It’s an ethnic melting pot, with its population living very much in harmony.’ – Chris Simpson

The Simpsons arrived in 1955, when Chris was three years old. They lived through a historic time on the island, when colonial life was coming to an end. As Deputy Colonial Secretary to Mauritius, Chris’ father helped its journey to independence in 1968, and became head of the new Civil Service. His mother, the daughter of Russian Countess Maria Alexandra Romanovitch Topchienkov, was great friends with Lord Cheshire, and introduced Cheshire Homes to Mauritius.


Mauritius Through the Ages

After 22 years, Chris and I are still great friends. He has kindly allowed me to share these spectacular images of Mauritius which appear in his first book, Carnets des Voyage part 1, with his recollections of taking them. In 2013, while staying at Lux Le Morne, I was one of the few ‘blancs’ at the temple at 5am, to capture pictures of the dramatic Tamil festival of Cavadee, where participants flesh is pierced with needles.




This photograph of Mauritius in the 1970s is of Black River Post Office, with a man on a bicycle and a hole cut in the Banyan Tree hanging over the road for the bus to go through. These photographs were shot for a Green Island Rum calendar in 1990. It featured sugar cane workers, a picture I call ‘little Naomi’ (Campbell) against a tree in Black River and the Hemingwayesque ‘Jack’s sailfish’.

This evocative Robinson-Crusoe-style photograph of the sailboat, Isla Mauritia, which also appeared in the Green Island Rum calendar in 1990, was captured on a dangerous shoot. I had to take a zodiac boat to climb to the top of wedge-shaped Coin de Mire, the closest of the Northern Islands, usually inaccessible to visitors.

A limited edition of just 100 copies, Carnets des Voyage part 1 by Chris Simpson is. presented in a handmade box, with his signature picture ‘Allée des Baobabs’. It costs £2500.

Chris Simpson

The Atlas Gallery

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