I am preparing a few paintings for the Moncrief-Bray Gallery, Petworth. This one, as you can see, is of Mussels (Mytilus Edulis). I’ve always loved them, for the colour of their shells and their succulent, richly scented, golden flesh. As children we would gather them at low tide, wrenching them off the shining black rocks to fry them in butter. It is thought that Mussels have been cultivated for 800 years. In Scotland prehistoric settlements can be identified by the piles of mussels shells beside them. Mussels feed on plankton and to do this, these little creatures filter up to 65 litres of water a day. Their mortal enemy is the unattractively named dog whelk which bores a hole in their shell in order to suck out the soft body, which may be greedy and unkind, but can you blame them? Their prey are full of minerals and protein, but with less fat than beef. If I had to come back as a shellfish I’d be a dog whelk. The painting will be on show at 20/21 Art Fair with the Moncrieff-Bray Gallery at the Royal College of Art 14th to 17th May.
All photographs © James Forshall