St Martin’s Man Turning Fish Into Art

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Most islanders keep a stock of fish in their freezer for times when the shops are running low.

But one St Martin’s resident keeps them for another reason – to create works of art.

Toby Tobin Dougan is using a Japanese technique called Gyotaku to take colourful prints of the fish caught in the waters around Scilly.

He first learnt the technique during his fine art degree in London.

The fish are washed and dried, painted with special Japanese inks and then pressed onto high quality mulberry paper.

Toby then spends several hours adding colour and detail to the art.
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He says he’s been catching fish here for over twenty years and is always amazed by the shapes and varieties available.

But it’s been hit and miss which species work.

Most successful was John Dory and pollack, while mackerel were disappointing because they didn’t have very detailed scales.

He’s released 22 prints to galleries around the islands, and sent copies to Rick Stein in Padstow and a sushi restaurant in Brighton.

Toby says the best thing about it is you can eat your subject afterwards. And if fish isn’t really your thing, he says the technique also works with plants.