Artistic Responses

Ghost of the Carta Marina

Benjamin Lawson

In commemoration of its discovery and in celebration of the spirit of the Lit & Phil I have drawn a life-sized version of the Ribbon Fish on the underside of the 24ft “Long Table”. The fish is etched on to the bones of the Lit and Phil using materials from a multiplicity of sources in imitation of zoological illustration such as those found in the Lit and Phil archives and the underside of the table itself mimics the structure of specimen display cases.

The fish under the table can only be seen by physically climbing under the table. Once underneath an individual audience member is in immediate proximity to the artwork at a distance of less than two feet and yet at the same time is unable to view the entire fish from any single position. The fish appears intensely close and at one and the same time retains its mystery in many ways like the real-life Ribbon Fish in its natural habitat. The artwork under the table is in many ways the opposite of a pop art image being neither transient, expendable nor overtly attention grabbing. Instead the artwork is a slow-burning open secret that, like the books in the Lit & Phil itself, rewards engagement in equal measure. The image is intended to create a feeling of awe and discovery.



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