by Deirdre Keenaghan
Last year in Japan, I found the most wonderful calligraphy shop in Kyoto. It was an artist’s dream, full of beautiful handmade paper and quill pens. I had no idea what to buy and my lack of Japanese didn’t help. I settled on a variety of paper, a few ink pens and a blank concertina book. I had no use for the book, but I felt it would come in useful one day.
When I spotted the Northern Beaches Library Art Book call for entries, I knew my Japanese book now had a purpose. The subject was an easy decision, the Sydney Fish Market. I live near the market and often stroll down there for some salmon fillets or a kilo of prawns.
It is a collection of old buildings, painted in an almost turquoise blue with various fish mongers and other cafes dotted around a large carpark. I know it’s a bit dilapidated and now showing its age, but there is such character to the place. Faded umbrellas on the terrace, provide welcome shade to the many visitors enjoying their choice of fish dish and sometimes a bottle of beer.
To me, originally from Ireland, the market is very Australian and captures all that is good here, the sea, the food and the outdoor life. It was even more important to make it the subject of my art book as it is soon to be demolished and relocated across the water. I have many reservations about this, because it will lose a lot of its charm. I wonder whether the decision is really about the fish market or the fact it is sitting on a real estate gold mine. It will undoubtedly be newer and fancier but a loss for Sydney. The idea of expressing this in a book was good as books, just like old buildings, are often replaced with something new. The old paper book can sometimes seem redundant in this digital age.