His rather squashed eyes look up at me reproachfully. If he were alive they would be sticking out of the mud or sand in which he would be half buried awaiting a careless crustacean, or bivalve. Both the eyes are on the right side of his face which is flat and comes to a point. It is as if a ordinary fish had been redesigned by Picasso during his cubist period and then run through the rollers of a ringer. I bought him from the fish counter in Carrefour and now he is sitting with me under the fig tree while I paint his spots. Not the orange ones. I haven’t got to those yet. Plaice can adapt their colour somewhat to their surroundings but the orange spots don’t change.
He’s quite small. Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), are caught younger these days, though capable of living until 40 most are caught at the age of 6: too many humans, eating too much.
Marks and Spencer are good about selling you fish in season and Sainsbury’s claim to be the largest retailer of fish certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council but when in England I always buy fish from the local fishmonger, Gibson’s Plaice, who have generously supplied me with many of my models.
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All photographs © James Forshall