I am in Menorca.
We are staying with an old friend on the other side of the harbour and yesterday when the others went off to an organ recital I went to the fish market to sketch some of the local fish. The market is surrounded by a windowed cloister where the merchants have their stands selling squid, octopus, spider crab, tuna, bass, bream and the friture of the mediterranean, small rascla, gallina, cerrano, cerrano imperiale, salmonetes, and Jureles.
A small orange fish with black and yellow eyes, a small mouth and blue stripes down the side of his face caught my eye. The local bye laws only permit him to be fished for a week a year, from the first of September. Fishing outside this period incurs a fine of 150 euros. When threatened he dives down and buries himself in the sand.
Fish scales © James Forshall
I had never seen this fish before and had to ask the fishmonger to write down his name, Rao, Lolitos or in English Razor fish, though I hazard the name Razor fish is the local name Rao anglicised by the English sailors who were stationed here after the island came into British hands falling the treaty of Utrecht (1713).
We went down to the harbour, where some men, their equipment moved around in liberated supermarket trolleys, were mending nets and where I did some sketching and then lay on one of the pontoons between the boats, dozing in the sun.
Lolitos, Rao, Razor fish sketch © James Forshall
© James ForshallFish sketches © James Forshall
I will use these sketches for some large scale paintings when I return to Britain.