Monday, October 1, 2012

Wild patience - some thoughts about fishwives

Now that crazy month is over I can get back to you with the 2nd fishwife painting as promised! It's called 'To Market'.

(not a great photo it's a bit glary.)

Here are some of the things I've been thinking about while I've been working on these paintings.

These days I suppose fishwife is used to describe a woman who is common, unsophisticated, with a loud raucous voice. If I've had a bad day of yelling at the kids I might note in my journal that I've been a bit of a fishwife!!

I grew up in the north of England, at school we learnt songs about fishermen battling the stormy seas - one that goes 'it was windy old weather...', and a hymn I think that goes 'the fishers watch when night comes down...' The women in these kind of songs - if mentionned at all - are passive, waiting. (I'm amazed I could track these songs down on the basis of one half remembered line!)

In reality they didn't sit around twiddling their thumbs, they would have helped mend the nets, take the fish to market, manage the money, make sure there was food on the table.

There's a great line in an Adrienne Rich poem - 'A wild patience has brought me this far' (Integrity)
I had always thought of this as a contradiction, wild and patience being opposites. Now I've started to think about how patience could be something fierce, full of determination. I think it says a lot about how women's lives have been.

While I was wandering around the web looking for images of fishwives and wondering what their market cries might be, I came across this blog by Kate Davies a crafter in Scotland who's doing lovely work inspired by fishwives!!

Here's the 3rd painting I managed to do for the Fish exhibition called the fishwife's cat.

If you're in Darwin, the fish exhibition is open at Tactile gallery (Territory Craft) until 20th October.
The minatures exhibition 'The goddesses of small things' is still on at DVAA until 13th October.

Best wishes to all, I hope to be around and about on the web a bit more this month!!


  1. the paintings are stunning. I like them both very much. The colors in the cat are great. Wonderful work!

  2. Great post and thank you for sharing the fab blog Kate Davies Designs....opened it up and there they were...just about the best, most practical invention...pockets! Give me a dress with pockets anyday. Cheers Veronica

    1. Hi Veronica, glad you enjoyed Kate Davies blog, the pockets are gorgeous eh?