I’ve been painting and sketching native oysters, Ostrea edulis. I buy them from oyster fishermen at Mylor in Cornwall near Falmouth. It was bitterly cold then and it’s pretty cold now.
It takes a long time to establish a native oyster bed. They were a major source of cheap food. In 1851, for example, a round 500 million oysters were sold through Billingsgate. Our oyster beds were destroyed by a series of cold winters, surely not the first though, in the mid 20th Century, and then pollution, the parasite, Bonnania Ostrea, the beastly slipper limpets and oyster drills which drill holes into them and eat it contents, they are a big threat for commercial oyster farms.
Now they can only be collected under license in Scotland.
Oysters change back and forth from female to male according to the temperature of the water. You get in the bath nice and hot, go to sleep, and wake up in cold water, surprisingly different. Well, surprising the first time, but native oysters can live for 20 years so they may get used to it.
Native Oysters, acrylic on canvas 50 cms x 100 cms
You can see my work in London at the The Flying Colours Gallery and at Oliver Contemporary
All photographs by James Forshall
I’ve just completed this painting of oyster shells.
They are the shells of the Pacific oyster and they are on the way to the Moncrieff- Bray Gallery, which will take them to the 20/21 International Art Fair at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU, running from the 14 – 17th May 2015.
Photograph by James Forshall
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
Painting Mackerel in my studio in France. The weather here has been very mixed. That may explain the very green view, but it’s cooler which is nice. I notice that the young children who visit us find the cooler weather easier, and even the locals are beginning to enjoy it.
Studies of water
Sketches of mackerel.
All photographs © James Forshall http://www.jamesforshallphotography.com
Equinox Tide 160 cms x 80 cms acrylic on canvas
Until the end of September, there is a selection of my paintings at the Oliver Contemporary in a mixed show, ‘ A Journey Through Summer 2013’ . There are also paintings by Simeon Stafford, Catharine Armitage, Matthew Batt, Mary Ford, Kate Boxer, Ingrid Wilkins and others.
Oliver Contemporary, 17 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Road, London SW17 7EG.
Telephone 0208 767 8822
Opening Hours Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
The Moncrieff-Bray Gallery is taking some of my work to the 20/21 International Art Fair at the Royal College of Art.
I’ll be showing with John Hitchens, Anita Mandi and Willow Legge.
Shells: incoming tide
The show is on from 9th to 12th May inclusive.
Opening Times: Thursday 11a.m. – 9p.m. Friday: 11a.m. – 8p.m. Saturday: 11a.m. – 7p.m. Sunday: 11a.m. – 6p.m.
Megavissey Bay: Cornish Sardines