Preliminary drawing for 'Away from the Pod': a life-sized (5m x 1.5m) drawing of a killer whale which will feature as part of 'Under the Sea', an exhibition curated by Rowena Hamilton which opens in January 2012 at Millennium Galleries, Sheffield.
The title 'Away from the Pod' directly references 'Away from the Flock': a work by Damien Hirst from 1994 which features a lamb enclosed in a tank of formaldehyde.
The orca (Orcinus orca), less commonly known as the blackfish, is the largest species of dolphin. It lives in matrilineal groups. This means that both male and female offspring stay with the mother for the duration of her life, only breaking away from her to hunt and mate. Despite the fearsome nature of this ocean predator, there have been no observations of violence occurring within these close-knit and harmonious family groups. Beyond the family orcas form complex, cultural communities; they are highly communicative and they exhibit remarkable resourcefulness (for example recently developed sustainable fishing practices in the North Pacific have been quickly exploited by orcas who have fed well off fish-laden hooked lines).
The intention was to create a tight, confined graphic space for our orca, perhaps reminiscent of the solitary confinement within which captive members of the species live. The curved dorsal fin, bent to fit the dimensions of the drawing, is a symptom of captivity and is not found in wild killer whales.