Pangasianodon Gigas

 

Above: Sketchbook – ideas development

 This work is for the “Nets” project – an inter-university exchange which will result in exhibitions, a web gallery and a conference in Turku, Finland in 2011.

The giant Mekong Catfish is under threat of extinction due to over-fishing and loss of habitat. It is beleived that the fish used to reach sizes over 3 metres, but the largest recorded catch to date is 2.7 metres – a monster fish caught in Thailand in 2005. As its fame and the mythology surrounding it increases, so does the number of game fishermen keen to land a record catch or earn a sizeable amount of money in the exotic food marketplace.

However, the water flow of the river is increasingly more controlled by China, changing the natural habitat of the river. It seems that survival of the great catfish is being left to chance and the fish’s ability to avoid nets, lines and traps in the murky green waters of the Mekong.

My exhibition piece will be a giant, woven Pangasianodon Gigas – made as a shaped tapestry which will hang the way a fisherman would hold up his catch to display or be photographed as his trophy. The drawing was made from photographs of very large fish I observed in Laos and the detail on the body of the fish is deliberately ambiguous scales/nets.  The piece will be woven on cotton seine twine (which was originally made as a string for fish netting) with mixed weft yarns.

Detail of digital print enlargement of original drawing which will be used to make a cartoon for the tapestry.

 

Valerie Kirk

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