Very tiny, vulnerable creatures have fascinated human-beings for all time – inspiring devotion, art, writing and thankfully conservationists. In the 70’s my deep-sea diver father brought home a necklace: a seahorse preserved in perspex. I did not back then see the hypocrisy of killing one ‘jewel’ to make another.
Unhampered by any worthwhile knowledge of the seahorse, I was fascinated. It wasn’t until much, much later that, through living in Dorset, I learn’t that seahorses are abundant on the coasts of England, Scotland and Ireland. I have never seen one in the wild; but have been fortunate to photograph them recently in a sea-life aquarium and study centre connected directly to Strangford Sea Lough in Portaferry, Northern Ireland, about an hour’s drive from where my daughter lives.
On first sight of the poor specimen preserved in perspex – I was transfixed by it’s amazing grace – it’s vulnerability, above all else. I hardly remember noting that it was one of the rare sea-creatures whose fathers gave birth to the offspring… perhaps the concurrent peaking of the feminist values at that time, overshadowed or ignored, any notion that man might excel at an act that was synonymous with womanhood.
I’ve never tried to paint one – for I couldn’t conceive how a painting could match the real, oh so fragile, little thing itself. Nowadays, with more experience, I may give it a try. It would be fun to go see if I could spot one with a camera. Ironically, one of their best habitats shared the same address as one of our family’s favourite beaches – Studland, in Dorset – ‘though I was unaware of their presence till near the end of our time there.
John Lennon had a house there – clever estate agents. Did he too imagine, here, all the creatures of the world co-existing in peace and freedom?
While writing this post I received news of the birth of a first child to my son Sam and his wife Akari, 6000 miles away in Japan. Into their care and love has been born a tiny, beautiful, vulnerable little treasure. I’ve received a first photograph of her – and already, she too has me fascinated, and enthralled, by her amazing grace.