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Commissioned collaboration between Sue Ryan and Ricardo Idagi for Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.

This sculpture of a green sawfish Pristis zijsron was made by the Australian artist Sue Ryan from repurposed grey and white gill net, plastic fishing floats, and retrieved rope that has been collected by indigenous rangers from beaches near Mapoon community in Cape York, Queensland. The netting was stitched within nylon fishing line onto armature of chicken wire construction bamboo with struts and supports of split bamboo. The saw-toothed diamond design by the Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi is called geigi kamut after a children’s string game. It is outlined in retrieved fishing rope with triangles of Pinctada mazatlantica shell around the outer edges to resemble sawfish teeth. . The sawfish rostrum teeth are made of dense plastic foam retrieved fishing floats.

The artist had been interested in creating a sawfish from marine debris for some time. The sawfish has suffered a significant decline in numbers and is extinct in many regions. It is an animal with the most likely design for entanglement in ghost net and fishing line. Decline of all species of sawfish is a global issue. 

The sawfish has a flowing shape with a contrasting rostrum of teeth which add drama and repetition to its form. It is a mysterious and shy creature and if we were not aware of its proven existence would assume it was a mythical animal. There is a certain irony in making a sculpture of this wonderful creature from the very material that is contributing to its demise, hopefully an irony that will assist to bring home the severity of the increasing problem posed by marine debris.

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