Something Fishy

 Ok, so as promised in my previous post, I’m going to give a bit of background on some of my most recent medals that are currently on display at the Pah Homestead in Auckland, New Zealand as part of the Medal Artists of New Zealand’ 25th Anniversary show ‘Regroup, Reflect, Regenerate’.This post will be the first in a series of four about the medals and for all the reasons I mentioned in my previous post ‘But what does it meeean?’, I’m still a little bit hesitant to do so, but for better or worse, here goes…

 This first piece, shown above, has a really simple concept, almost embarrassingly so. With a fish sculpted in relief on one side, and the words ‘sell’ on the other, it was actually born out of an idea I had for a ceramic body of work some years ago. That body of work hasn’t yet made it to fruition, but often when I begin working on a medal, I’ll revisit past ideas.

The original idea came about after having watched a doco on over fishing and then seeing said ‘endangered’ fish in the supermarket the next week. So although I don’t quite know where I would have taken it as a ceramic body of work, the essence of the idea about overfishing, consumerism, consumer awareness, greed etc etc still held true for me.

I basically needed somewhere to start, so that’s where I started.

The fish in question depicted on the medal is a ‘Dentice’ fish (yup – that’s my surname). Found in the Mediterranean, it is not unlike a snapper. It was a great fish to sculpt in relief as there are lots of great details, fins, scales and changes in texture, I really enjoyed it.

My family roots are in Sicily, and my forebears were traditionally fisherman (of Dentice) who ‘sell fish’. I decided to use the word ‘sell’ on the reverse of the medal as I like to use ‘call to action type language’ on my work, slightly authoritative. ‘Sell, sell, sell’ is one of the mantras for our current global economy.

I liked the idea that the viewer has to put the word and the picture/object together to arrive at the phrase ‘Sell Fish’. I took that approach with the other medals in this series too. And obviously, ‘Sell’ and ‘Fish’ nicely come together to sound out ‘Selfish’. That was the essence of the original idea, selfish companies, selfish consumers etc. And on a personal level for me the connection to the Dentice fish – I am from the Dentice family, therefore by heritage I ‘sell fish’, am sell fish/selfish. And I’m in a particularly self indulgent time in my life, so it all just came together very nicely. It’s meant to be a bit funny, It’s pretty cheesy, but medals are just like sketches/cartoons. They need to be simple.
So how was that for you? Insight useful or not?

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I am a sculptor, hailing from West Auckland, New Zealand and now reside in London. My main sculptural mediums are ceramics and art medals.

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