All Things Fishy (1891/2003)

Fish Plate (1891)

Edith Hannaford Boultbee (1861-1921)

Edith Hannaford Boultbee (1861-1921)

Edith Hannaford Boultbee (1861-1921) was my great grandmother. She died the year before my father was born so he had no knowledge of her. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to ask my grandmother, Edith’s daughter-in-law, anything about Edith. All I know is that her father, Michael Hannaford was a respected artist and she painted fish plates which survive in several contemporary family homes.

Smells Fishy (2003)

Leslie Boultbee (b. 1979)

Leslie Boultbee (b. 1979)

Leslie Boultbee’s painting, “Smells Fishy” received an Applied Arts Award (Student Illustration - Single/Series) in 2003 while she was a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design. “For my piece "Smells Fishy" I wanted to contradict what is normally associated with a fridge. I created a fridge that was rich with both scent and character, but which also conveys a real emotion not normally associated with such a mundane, everyday appliance.”[1]


The Fish Plate (2022)

Paul Boultbee (b. 1951)

The Fish Plate

Initially, I wasn’t sure how I would incorporate my Great Grandmother’s Fish Plate, but when I came across Leslie’s “Smells Fishy” I had a better sense of what I might be able to do. I wanted to include references to both Leslie’s painting and Edith’s plate which was on the wall in our dining room when I was growing up.

This piece has gone through several stages. My original idea was to smash some decorative but cheap Value Village plates and arrange them on the canvas in the shape of a fish, but that was not a satisfying solution. Instead, I went back to a sketchbook from my studies in 2001 and found of a set of cutlery in the style of Jean Dubuffet in order to create a place setting. I wasn’t at all sure about a colour strip for this piece until I thought of using the smashed china pieces. The centre piece, the fish, is a stylized version of the fish that appears in Leslie’s “Smells Fishy”.

This mixed media piece moves into the higher relief three-dimensional realm to reflect Edith’s plates. After much deliberation and toing and froing, I am very happy with this piece. I have incorporated all the elements I had intended for the piece, and am very satisfied with the simple composition and the unusual presentation. I feel that in its own way it mirrors the rather surreal quality of “Smells Fishy”.

Relationship: I am Edith’s great grandson. I am Leslie’s second cousin.