ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

Gannet Whale

This is a gannet whale. In five million years dolphins and whales will apparently have died out, leaving room for the Gannet Whale. The Gannet Whale is four metres of seal-like flubbery fun, descended from the present day Gannet, a graceful bird that can both fly and swim under water. The Gannet Whale, unsurprisingly to look at it, cannot fly. Slumped up on the sand to lay eggs, fairly defenceless, when threatened the Gannet Whale vomits up its last meal – ‘a stinking cocktail of partly digested fish and squid’ – at would-be assailants.

I’m very excited about this because think I’ve been trying to create a Gannet whale. It takes a lot of energy to make all that lard. It’s also, incidentally, an impossible task, given the current state of evolution today’s whales and dolphins and penguins are in. In any case I like dolphins and penguins, probably more than gannet whales. So that’s good to know.

[For more on Gannet Whales, check out ‘The Magnificent Gannet Whale’ on YouTube. I also enjoy the ‘spink’ – a small, mole-like burrowing bird’]

The picture above is from the fabulous day of play Erica Brennan and I had with images for David Finnigan’s Ile and Moondirt. We were creating snow fields and cities. Here I momentarily dipped from my interest in that into indulgence in some kind of surrealist void opening up and floating by. Now, I like the picture, but it does serve as a pretty good example of what happens to me when I forget what I’m meant to be doing. This door through rubble into a hard surface of nothingness in which not even a Gannet Whale could make itself discernible may just be why however much I get out of meandering through my crooked mental nose’s pathways, at some point I do need to pick a grounding centre and stick with it for a while. So that’s also good to know. Two major pitfalls of sitting alone in a room with my Brain and my Nose and my Skin and all the other elements of the conglomerate that will hopefully be better navigated from now on.


This is a few blocks from Shopfront. I am puzzled and buzzingly delighted.

Seems fairly fruitless, zapping a timid sea. Might even kill off the wildlife. But maybe the sea is electrical and the moon is a timid sea electrician, bringing in the tide. Perhaps another way to look at it is a quote I’ve kept by me for a while, a perfect summation of the warmth I feel from Shopfront: ‘Sing yourself to where the singing comes from.’ Seamus Heaney.


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