Thursday, 26 April 2012
A sub-theme of the Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne in 2006 was fish. It was used a way to integrate the Yarra River into the event - a 'ceremonial spine' that linked sporting venues. To acheive this the organisers chose a fish (or other water-dwelling animal) to represent each of the nations competing at the event and had Mothers Art construct oversized sculptural representations of them. The fish were floated on pontoons and paraded along the Yarra River during the event and then distributed around the place after the event as a momento. They have ended up in the museum as well as in government and private hands. One example of the latter is at the WTC Wharf development on the Yarra River, as pictured here. Not sure if it's the Whitecheek Surgeonfish representing the Cook Islands, or the African Bonytongue representing The Gambia, but there is a full list here for the icthyologists among you.
Is it public art? Design? Theatre? The theme and method is intentionally accessible to a broad public audience (hasn't every person who has ever held a pair of tin snips made a corrugated iron cow?). And they are slowly gathering a sense of heritage as the years tick by. If they can hold together for a few more deacdes (you don't have to look too closely to see that they have been constructed as theatre props, not long term public installations) we may have to do a 'where are they now' segment and see if we can find them all. And go to the effort of working out the difference between a Nassau grouper (Belize) and a Pink Dentex (Gibraltar).
You can find the Dolphinfish or Lampuka, representing Malta, on the main road through Tooradin. The fish is located close to the creek that runs through town and out into the bay, so the fish should feel at home here. Unfortunately, it seems that the preferred installation method for all the fish has been a tall skewer through the belly to get them out of the reach of vandals. It seems to be keeping the vandals at bay, but it doesn't do much to integrate them into their surroundings. The poles have a similar appearance to those you might find holding up the 'Caltex' sign at a petrol station. Perhaps someone should set up a 'fisho' underneath (a roadside stall selling fish).