I recently took part in a creative, nationwide initiative to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission: a charity that supports Britain’s active and retired fishermen and their families. The Fishermen’s Mission reached out to artists and designers across the country and sent us all a wonderful, writhing fish, sculptured out of clay. It was our job to decorate the fish in our own way and true to our creative handwriting.
The fish sat on my table in my studio for about a month before I decided what to do with him. We eyed each other up from time to time, waiting for the right moment to connect.
Three years ago, I moved from a life spent in the industrial north of England to a quiet, seaside town in Devon. I yearned for a sea I could swim in, sand between my toes and salt on my lips and found it in Exmouth, Devon. A new and ongoing pleasure has been to buy fish straight from the beach at neighbouring Budleigh Salterton.
I have discovered fish that I never knew existed: Huss, Wrasse, Pouting and Whiting ... Living by the sea has opened up a new, culinary world for me. As a pescatarian, I rely on fish for protein and pleasure J When I came to decorate the Fishermen's Mission ceramic fish, I wanted to write the names of all of the fish in the sea that I now know exist in the waters off Britain, many of which I've eaten over the last three years.
I painted a base colour of red and white and then over painted in a deep cerulean blue acrylic paint. I scratched the names of the different fish that swim in the seas off Great Britain into the paint, exposing the layer of paint below. I wanted to celebrate all the fish in the sea but at the same time create an artwork that is reminiscent of the personalised flotsam and jetsam that fishermen used to create, scratching the name of their loved one in a piece of washed up wood. I have also written the names of the seas that surround Great Britain on the big wave which carries the fish along its way. I used the end of an alun key to create the writing having misplaced my etching tool! I hope that my work communicates the raw energy and life that is within the fish and my love and respect for the many fish that swim in the sea.
In May of this year my fish will be auctioned off together with others that have made their way back to the Fishermen’s Mission, decorated by artists from around the country. Find out more about this good cause and the onward journey of my fish at the Fishermen’s Mission.