His locks of white hair and casual dressing – shorts, sandals, and shirt – make 68 year-old Philippe Laurella, a distinct figure on the streets of Male.
His many years in the Maldives, have earned him a spot in folklore, and most Maldivians know him as the white guy who married a Maldivian and settled here.
Despite coming from a family of artists Philippe was never interested in painting. However boredom on a rainy day in Male in 1999 led him to try, and when a Swiss friend liked and bought his work it became the catalyst for becoming a painter.
His paintings are mostly of fish; swirls of tiny blue fish, giving a peek into orange fishes that are passing behind. Or one of his most recognisable paintings: the long legs of a stork and its head peering back into the painting amid multi-coloured fishes swimming by. The colours are striking; the paintings uplift your spirits, while showcasing the beauty of fishes.
“My stay here just happened. This could be a 38 year stopover – I could still continue my voyage.”