Catherine TRUMAN

Glenelg, South Australia, Australia born 1957

Fish neckpiece number 2 1987 Place made: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: jewellery, neckpieces, wood, nylon, paint, waxed flax, iron wire

Dimensions: fish pendant 5.1 h x 21.2 w x 2.0 d cm with cord 29.0 h cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased from Gallery admission charges 1988
Accession No: NGA 88.1416
Image rights: © Catherine Truman
  • The work shown in this book is from a solo exhibition entitled Fish Carvings: by Catherine Truman, held in 1987 at the Contemporary Jewellery Gallery in Sydney. The collection of wearable carvings was centred around the theme of ageing, in particular the way age is perceived by western society. Fish were used as a metaphor for the part of us that continues to grow whilst our physical exterior deteriorates.

    Fish neckpiece no 2 is accompanied by a quote from Barbara McDonald from her book, Look Me in the Eye, published in 1983:

    We never really know the beginning or the middle, until we have lived out an ending and lived on beyond it.

    A photograph of the three generations of women from my father’s side (my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my aunt) also accompanies the work. Repeated images of the carving are superimposed around their necks.

    The fish is carved from mangrove wood and left dry and untreated. The grey of the wood denotes age. The fins have been replaced with fresh green grass (painted nylon), to indicate life beyond, and life from within.  This separation of the physical from the spiritual or other parts of us, and how the life of one affects the life of the other, continued to dominate the conceptual content of my work for a number of years. The representation of the physical versus the non-physical body was later manifested in other symbols of boats and water surfaces.

    From 1996 onwards I have continued a personal investigation into human anatomy and movement.

    Catherine Truman 2002

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002