Fish Faces

Many years ago I came across this book ‘Fish Face’ by David Doubilet, a well known underwater photographer who says in the introduction of the book:

“Fish hate to have their picture taken. They dislike it even more than cats, birds, wild orang-utans or two-year-olds – a fish portraitist is an underwater oxymoron. It is virtually impossible to be a Karsh of the coral reef. Exquisite photographic moments in the sea are even more rare that those on land, and time underwater is constantly constrained by physics and physiology.

For humans, fish appear as alien creatures living in a weightless twilight world. For fish, human divers appear to be not just aliens but true monsters with giant blank, masked eyes and Medusa-like pipes sprouting from their heads, making violent bubbling noises.

When we do meet it is fleeting, but at times we are face to face, and I am looking into extraordinary turret eyes that see 180 degrees on each side of the fish’s face. Then there are small moments when suddenly there seems to be an expression.

Fish are caricatures of humans – floating cartoons…”

I was working with Stained Glass for several years until I could afford to buy my first kiln. Once I had it installed I was eager to get started and picked up this book, the amazing photos capturing the fish faces and the variety of colour and shapes inspired me to start on setting them in stained glass.

Side note: Over time I was questioned why was I not doing any native Irish fish? I would love to do a series of Irish freshwater and seawater creatures and I have searched for photos, most ‘portraits’ I could find were taken of dead fish being presented as ‘catch of the day’ or without a clear view of the face. So if there are photos out there, let me know….

My friend, storyteller and writer, Garry McKenna wrote a few lines to give us his own impressions about those portraits and here how he describes how I came to create images of fish faces in glass….

Introducing Andrea’s Fish Faces

This inaugural collection from Andrea Lippert’s glass studio is the result of an alignment of a number of strong influences from her past – recent and historic – and reflects her love and fascination of all things marine.

Andrea was first selected to bring these vibrant images of our magical undersea fish life to her artisan glass portfolio when she was bewitched by a wonderfully illustrated book on the subject of fish faces – at a boot sale in her home country of Germany, at about the same time she had decided to move permanently to Ireland. Many years later, and no less bewitched by the luminous and extraordinarily exotic images, Andrea had honed her craft to a level where she felt she could now attempt to transport her vision to her beloved glass medium. Her glass workshop in Kinvara was witness to the first fish faces as far back as 2011 and Andrea has returned again and again to complete the collection. She has returned several times over the intervening years and yet maintained the initial approach to complete the current collection.

Andrea is a quintessential Pisces – she lives by the sea near Kinvara and gathers her strength and inspiration from its ebb and flow. She does not see these pieces as just works of art – they are infused with passion born of her fascination for her subjects and reflect her emotional bond with them-each face has almost human expression – thus the captions attached to each image. Enjoy the journey of discovery as you compare your own impression of the fish faces with that of the artist and wonder at the awesome beauty beneath our seas.

Garry McKenna

Meet all the fish faces.