Monday, 7 January 2008

My fish fetish


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 [1754]. 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.

12 comments:

  1. The marbled fish are just wonderful. Worthy of a solo exhibition.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Carol - these marbled fish are absolutely superb! I have only seen marbling done once and that was over 20 years ago! So am I right thinking that you formed the fish on the surface and then dropped the paper onto it to transfer the image? What is carragheen?
    I think you should do more of these...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Wendy and Amanda, I plan to do more marbled fish and I'll soon put a few more that I've already done in a post. Carragheen or carrageenan is the gel or size made from a seaweed called Irish moss. Marbling can be done on water, carrageenan or methyl cellulose and I have recently done some on a guar gum size. I'm certainly not an expert on marbling but I will try to explain what I use as I go along.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! I am enjoying learning about what you do. I am so glad that we have met.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Judy, There'll be more marbled fish as soon as I master getting photos the right size.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Namaste' Carol artists ALWAYS find each other some way and how! ;0) This is spectacular! YOU ROCK! I am so glad I found your site.

    sky
    http://awolfadventure.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Came over here from Amanda's blog. These fish are spectacular. Never tried marbling with carragheen. You've inspired me ! They look almopst like prints -- monoprints or etchings.

    I shall be back

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Sky & Cusp for your encouragement. I must dig out some more of the fish done in that session, and then do some more.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi, came to check your blog out after you posted on mine. These fish are great, Carol! I'd love to see more about how you do the marbling. It's so great to make these connections with other creative people. Very inspiring!

    Barbara
    http://moonbindery.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Barbara, thanks for your kind words about my fish. I do hope to get some more on soon.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful fish and wonderful blog.

    ReplyDelete
  12. those fish are absolutely awesome.

    ReplyDelete

I love to read your comments and I do reply to each. I've turned off word verification and comment moderation for the moment but will see how that goes.