Oaharra! Oaharra! (The Sea! The Sea!)
By Arabella Crum Ewing

none
Year
1993
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
Sea and Boats
Reg. Number
P502
Size
72.5 x 55.5 cm

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As the title suggests this etching is a sea scape, but one which is seen from the land. It is a colourful work, but also playful, with quirky details. The foreground is dominated by strange pink and white plants. They are mushroom-like, but may be sea-anemones or other exotic plants which grow on a foreshore. Much of the picture is the blue of the sea, but at the top, in the distance, are two other land-based structures - an iron bridge and a lighthouse. Possibly the most striking feature of the painting are the birds. They are sea-birds of different kinds with detailed markings, sitting on a wooden structure in the foreground of the picture.

The artist seems to enjoy playing with realistic and non-realistic features and with different perspectives. The birds are portrayed realistically, but the perspective of the wooden structure on which they sit seems to change as one looks at it. Sometimes it seems to be a flat plank, jutting away from the viewer towards the sea and at other times it looks more like an upright post. Whilst the bridge looks realistic - it may be an actual bridge - the lighthouse is deliberately askew, like a child's drawing, or maybe something from the na'i've paintings of Alfred Wallis. The jaunty sea birds, the exaggerated strange pink plants and the toppling lighthouse help to provide a cheerful comic tone to the picture.

The print is one of twelve prints from a series produced by the Edinburgh Printmakers' Workshop in 1993.The overall title of the series is, 'Oaharra! Oaharra! The Sea! The Sea!'. The puzzling title is actually a rendition into English lettering of an ancient Greek word, which is usually pronounced (and written), "Thalatta! Thalatta!" (as opposed to the modern Greek spelling, '???????', and pronounced, "thalassa".) Xenophon, the General who wrote an account of the retreat of the Greek army after fighting the Persians, said this was the cry of the 10,000 soldiers when they first saw the Black Sea, and realised they would be able to get home to Greece.

Arabella Crum Ewing studied Theology at Oxford and Edinburgh, where she also attended the Edinburgh College of Art. She learned etching at the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop. In 1994, while on a visit to Sweden, she developed an interest in producing artist's books - a craft she studied more intensively in the south of France, where she lived for nearly ten years. She now lives in Saxmundham, Suffolk and continues to work as a full-time artist. She enjoys working with different mediums, including watercolours, oils and prints, and has said, "Being an artist has always seemed something inevitable rather than a matter of choice. Pigment and oil, metal, acid and paper, these are my raw ingredients and my delights".

Many of her works reflect a continued interest in birds and other creatures, including some lovely cats. A light comic touch pervades much of her art, some of which can be sent from her website as e-cards. She continues to produce artist's books in very limited editions, some of which are in national collections, including the Tate in London.

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