How can I put this? I have a passion for fish. Not to eat. Pictures of fish, and even more particularly fish drawn in the very early natural history books of the 15th to the 18th century. I collect reproduction volumes of early ichthyology encyclopaedia and I'm fascinated by the fantastic shapes and colours of the fish. I have a two volume facsimile set of Louis Renard's Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs or Poissons Ecrevisses et Crabes, ... que l'on trouve autour des Isles Moluques, et sur les Cotes des Terres Australes. Amsterdam, MDCCLIV . See original. The facsimile was published in 1995 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
I have been using some of Renard's fish to illustrate my own version of fishy things, at first sticking quite closely to the original shapes and colours but gradually finding I can deviate and make them more my own creations. Some of my earlier attempts I've used in miniature concertina books but I'm now working on a more ambitious book that may eventually see the light of day, perhaps even here on this site. I don't really have enough confidence in my drawing ability to be sure of that, though I feel okay about my ability to produce the book itself. I've been making books for over 20 years but only drawing for a year and I have no illusions about my talent in that regard. But I figure that I need to keep at it in the hope that I may improve.
However, last year I spent a wonderful week in Brunswick Heads with my marbling friend Joan Ajala, and I produced some tiny monochrome marbled fish. I filled a small shallow dish with carragheen, used mostly china black (though I did a few with colour) and manipulated the ink with a needle and ox gall. I used very small pieces of alumed paper, (Arches from memory,) and worked very quickly on each fish. I found this much more satisfying than drawing but I suspect this was because I enjoyed the element of hit and miss - it's very easy to have your fish become a muddy puddle when you work on it too much.
As a book binder trained in Sydney and Auckland, I am currently interested in drawing, print making, and all aspects of the artist’s book. My lifelong passions have always revolved around books, both making and reading, and natural history. From 1980 until retirement in 2004 (and later on contract)I worked in the Research Library of the Australian Museum and was privileged to work with the Rare Book Collection. My interest in the marine animals depicted in the 16th and 17th century natural history books has led to a series of hand made books I am working on, featuring my re-drawings of these animals. Wamberal, on the beautiful NSW Central Coast, is where I live and work, in easy reach of 7 beaches and lagoons.