Cetacean Subculture

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

‘Away from the Pod’, a life sized rendering of a killer whale and the first drawing for Origin011, is in the process of developing from a series of drawings entitled ‘Cetacean Subculture’.

Rowena Hamilton, curator at Museums Sheffield, has asked me to create a large scale drawing for a panel in the Millennium Galleries measuring 5m x 3.6m. My first task has been to identify a species that will fit into the panel – not an easy task bearing in mind the fact that most of the great whales measure in excess of 20m.

Research revealed that the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), measures 2 to 4m in length and will thus fit the space of the drawing quite nicely at life-size.

I began work on three preliminary drawings of dolphins. The first, which I entitled ‘Goodbye And Thanks For All The Fish’, featured a dolphin fitted with a US navy surveillance device. I felt that there was something disturbingly perverse in this image – especially given the accounts that we have of dolphins in the wild acting in an apparently atruistic way towards drowning humans …

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

In the second two drawings, again based on bottlenosed dolphins, I have dressed the cetaceans up in clown’s clothes. I am currently in the process of making a painting from the second, Harlequin, sketch – I feel that a colour treatment of this image will pack a much more powerful emotional punch.



I have also sketched a baby sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in its mother’s womb. My intention was to imbue this image with a sense of our primordial mammalian kinship; the massive infant floating like a human baby in the same form of amniotic fluid, connected to its mother via the same umbilical cord …


The chosen image, however, is a life sized orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca); which I have drawn curled up into an area measuring 5m x 1.3m; a graphic space that only just contains its massive 6-8m form.

I will upload the finished preliminary drawing to my next blog post.


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