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Posts tagged ‘Fish’

The Sicily Series | Part II – La Pescheria, Soul of the City

You can smell Catania’s famous daily fish market, Le Pescheria, long before you approach it… that unmistakable smell of the sea tinged by an ever so decipherable pungency of putrid flesh together with the fresh zing of lemon, the fragrant perfume of fresh herbs and the pure scent of water, the neutral base note which both reflects and is imbued with the distinctive nature of the surrounding area. In Catania, that is a smell which is characterised by the scorching heat absorbed into and evaporating off the dark lava stone walls of its ancient Etna-born palazzos. Follow the scent, past the resplendent Baroque Duomo, and you find yourself in Catania’s burgeoning and frankly raucous market, starting with the abundance of locally caught fish, and spreading outward into the streets beyond where stalls loaded with fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, bread and cheeses populate every spare inch of the pavements.

The famous fish market

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I have been to many wonderful European markets. Each have their own character, and every one of them is utterly captivating for the breadth of fresh produce and characterful salesmen. But Catania’s market feels more historical and more authentic than any I have visited. Gathered together among the foundations of ancient Roman ruins and decaying Medieval walls, the stalls of the fish market are collectively transportative, with the power to recall the bustle of a Roman Forum or a scene from the Renaissance. The market takes us back to the roots of modern civilisation, stripping back our senses to a basic appreciation of nature at its best: enviably fresh fish, sensationally plump vegetables, none of them the result of quality control but a product of nature’s caprice. And beyond the produce, perhaps the best thing about Catania’s market is its people, the fishermen and stall holders who are so full of passion, who will declare strong and loud that their fish is the best, outdoing one another to see who can attract the most attention, and secure the quickest sales of their freshly acquired catch.

To be accompanied by some super-fresh fruit and veg… (and cheese)

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All of this combines to make a visit to Catania’s market an ultimately thrilling experience, full of noise, of smells, and of colour; shades of pink and red and green and blue whose vibrancy truly shines against a backdrop of black lava stone. This is street theatre at its thrilling best, as fishermen slice open slithering fish and proudly display their decapitated fish heads while elegantly dressed women totter in heels, neatly stepping over pools of water stained with blood. Catania is a city with real spirit and an abundance of outwardly expressed emotion, but it is perhaps in its market where Catania’s soul truly resonates.

…and some more fish

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Norm Palma Series: Fishernorms survey their daily catch

Fishernorms have a difficult job. It’s not at all easy heading out into the dark inky seas of night to fish for a Norm’s livelihood, no matter how often the seas of the Mediterranean remain calm and balmy, nor how plentiful the fish. There will always be those days when a catch is disappointing or when the weather batters more than just the fish. Then of course there are those who moan about the European Union, and quotas, and restricted waters and who knows what else. But that’s quite enough about them. For this is a positive post, full of the optimism that only the joys which Palma’s splendid waterside marina can bring. With its mighty structure standing proud alongside the sea, the inspiring Cathedral of Palma is always the first glorious sighting the Fishernorms of Mallorca have when they haul in their daily catch to shore each morning. No wonder the Fishernorms of Palma are, by comparison with others, such happy folk.

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Fishernorms survey their daily catch (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Here in this week’s sketch we can see the Fishernorms, trawling through their daily catch one sunny bright morning in Palma. It might be a bustling city, but in Palma the port is stationed in the centre of the action. So everyday in the city, the Fishernorms can be seen laying out their nets to dry and counting their catch. The fresh perfume emanating from their paraphernalia provides a happy reminder for all Norms thereabouts that this is a city ideally situated on water, where the many fruits of the Mediterranean will always be close-by and easily enjoyed, especially thanks to the hard work of the Fishernorms.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Two Mackerels

Fish have always fascinated me. It’s not just how beautiful they look, with their silvery scales and feathered tails, their glassy marble eyes and their silky pink mouths, but they’re delicious too. There is nothing better than some plump fresh fish, simply cooked and eaten with a glass of white wine and a lot of sunshine, preferably in Mediterranean surroundings. And it is largely because I live so far from the Mediterranean but want to recreate that precise moment of bliss that I buy so much fresh fish from my local London fishmongers.

On one recent occasion, I went in wanting sardines, and came out with two mackerels. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but their beautiful black and silver bodies, with a almost zebra pattern towards the top of their scales so enticed me that I had to buy them. In the end we ended up eating them well seasoned with catalan pan con tomate, but not before I had taken a load of photographs by way of admiration of their beauty.

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Two Mackerels (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

Two Mackerels (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

Before long, these photos sewed the seeds of creation in my mind, and when I decided the time was right to start another etching project, I decided the stark simplicity of these two mackerels would make a perfect etched image. And here is the result – etched into Zinc, including the woodgrain which is, in reality, just small scratches onto the plate but which is meant to represent a chopping board upon which the mackerels lie in wait, ready to take centre stage in some culinary feast.

So that’s the etching done. Now for the exhibition. I’m hoping this one will go on show with others this September when I exhibit alongside the East London Printmakers – more details to follow. In the meantime, should you wish to buy one of my Mackerel prints, get in touch through the contact page on my website

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Sunday Supplement: Fish in Four Quadrants

The humble goldfish has filled many a household with a splash of orange and a friendly face in the morning. However my experience with goldfish hasn’t been great. My first twosome, Gucci and Versace, died after about 10 days, both found one solemn morning floating on the surface of their little tank, neither escaping the sad fate which had befallen them. My next attempt: Giorgio and Armani fell subject to the same fate, despite all of our efforts to clean their tank, feed them as appropriate, and even manage their surroundings into a beautiful catwalk of fish tank beauty as befitted their namesake. But no. Dead again.

So I put my attempts at keeping goldfish to bed, humbly accepting defeat and concentrating instead on the guinea pigs who gave me such childhood pleasure. Nonetheless, when my sister headed to university, she found herself drafted into looking after the goldfish of one of her friends until, almost by default, she became its new adopted mother. This fish, named by the family “Fish Brown” after our surname, had nonesuch the glamourous title given to my former protégés, but what this fish lacked in name, it surely made up for in nature. This was no ordinary goldfish, with swaying silky fins which wafted elegantly behind him whenever he moved. Even with a long poo hanging from his tummy, this fish looked persistently debonair. Unsurprisingly, I was inspired to paint him, but being undecided as to which pose I should concentrate on, I painted Fish Brown from four different angles, set against different backgrounds of light and shade.

My Fish in Four Quadrants was born.

Fish in Four Quadrants (2004 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, Acrylic on canvas)

If you like the painting and fancy a slice of Fish Brown in your own home, both this original canvas, and limited edition prints of the painting are available for sale. If you are interest in acquiring one, send me a message and I’ll give you all the details. Alternatively all of my limited edition prints are for sale via my main website www.delacy-brown.com. Have a great Sunday!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2004-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.