"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626


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Monday, 27 September 2010

“Black Things from the Beach” No 2. Mermaid’s Purse

Black thing number two was delayed as I had to travel north to see my father for a few days. I had optimistically taken a few with me, hoping for a moment to do some drawing, but they returned south with me yesterday undisturbed and undrawn.

They are the strangest things.The tide line here has many of them .

Colloquially they are known as “Mermaid’s, or perhaps more aptly Devil’s, Purses”  Blackened twisted pods with broad wavy seams which I thought might even have been the inspiration for ravioli. They are of course the egg cases of skates, dogfish and rays.  

CartoonWebThe Great Egg Case Hunt is a rather wonderful website by the Shark Trust which has very thorough and fascinating information about all these different egg cases. They are looking for help in recording where egg cases are found (and where they are not found), in order to implement conservation measures. If you live by the coast go, look and record and let them know.  And if you don’t know your egg case from your elbow, there is a very good identification page here .. amazing!


A variety  of egg case sizes from the above website 

The cases are hard and brittle when you find them on the tide line and often broken and  usually empty.  They are reminiscent of big black four legged  beetles. This one has 3 legs on the ground and one waving.  I drew it scuttling across the windowsill towards a little piece of black charred wood with two holes in it. It’s a ray or skate case.  I also have some daintier dogfish egg cases which I will draw tomorrow if I have time.

Black Thing No 2 plus charred wood

black thing 2 blg


Steve Asbell said...

I love the illustration! It can be to capture the overall shape of something so... shapeless and you pulled it off nicely. I love beachcombing.

Strumelia said...

I love these black thing egg cases, and your drawing is beautiful.
It all reminds me of some Edward Gorey creature.

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you both for your kind and perceptive comments.
I think these egg cases are just the most wonderful bits of natural design.

RFG: you are so right I played about with this thing until I could get a shapely angle and shadows always help

Strumelia: What a wnderful compliment. I am HUGE fan of Edward Gorey.. I once had many of his books. the more sinister the better! :)