The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Photographing A Fish Out of Water

Alice Francis is a local artist with one of the most wonderfully creative imaginations around. She transports you off into worlds you would otherwise never have dreamed of.

At last year’s Spring Fling, she wrapped a complete traditional Galloway cottage in a fitted floral stretch fabric. "Couch" became one of the highlights of the weekend (for a wee video showing the fabric being fitted, head to YouTube -

Only discovered if you happened to be driving on a small, out of the way B-road.

Exact measurements had to be taken to ensure a proper fit. Note the chimneys...

Galleries and formal exhibitions are not for Alice. She likes her art to be stumbled upon and to force you to think twice about what you are seeing and how that might challenge a whole pile of preconceptions you never realised you were carrying around with you.

A couple of weeks ago she embarked on A Fish Out of Water - "An intrepid 'Silver Darling' retraces the routes of her ancestors by hiking inland along The Herring Walk. A humorous adventure in ichthyology!", where she sought to hike along the old route taken by the fishwives from Eyemouth Harbour through to Selkirk – but dressed a fish, in a costume made from, old rope, netting and beach-combed plastics.

Fish ready for a hike, complete with OS Map

This was one strand of a Borders Arts Trust project called Casting The Net – more of which can be found on their blog -

Alice and the Borders Arts Trust needed an image or two for publicity, so before she set off we went out to take a few photos.

Rucksack, bedroll and saucepan at the ready

Alice emerging from the headset

One last look at the sea

Up through the woods where the wild-garlic offered its sweet aroma when brushed against.

I can't help but feel this image would look at its best printed up at least 2m high

As always, feel free to click on the images for larger versions.

I asked Alice to be my poster-girl for this year’s Spring Fling open-studio event at the end of May, where the theme for my studio will be 'I'm Humphrey Bogart and So's My Wife'. More on that in a later post…


Anonymous said...

gotta love an artist who dares to be different...who goes not just for the jugular but the brain...I'm still thinking about the significance of covering a house...and where the heck does she sew something so huge? the fish is fantastic and that it's made from items gleaned from the beach makes it more so...look forward to seeing and hearing more about Alice!!!

Eryl said...

I love that last shot, it's so dramatic, and would look fantastic on a huge bill board.

I must see more of Alice's work, it's fab, and I like her ethos.

PS try Gap for plain, heavy cotton shirts. They have an outlet at Gretna.

Anonymous said...

Amazing images! Alice's Fish Out of Water is particularly amazing. I can imagine how I'd feel seeing this as I was walking just about.

Guyana-Gyal said...

This is such exciting work, it gets me all fired up, thinking, wanting to do.

Of course, as someone who sews, I'm thinking of all the cutting, stitching. Who did the measurements? All that math...eek.

Alice reminds me of Caribbean people's art!

Yep, Kim, your photos are amazing, especially that last one.

Pat said...

Are there any boring ordinary folk living up there?
I think I recognise the beach.

Sir Jackson Peaks said...

I absolutely love your black and white images. That last shot is spectacular.

Kim Ayres said...

Theanne - I don't think she sewed it herself - I'm fairly certain she took all the measurements and worked with the company who produced the fabric to make sure the covering would fit.

Eryl - when I first heard of Alice she was doing a 2-seater cinema experience in a tiny caravan :)

Allen - I love that idea of just randomly coming across something so unusual while out for a walk :)

Guyana-Gyal - it was Alice who did all the measurements - really quite incredible :)

Pat - there is a particularly high density of artists, writers, musicians and creatives in this corner of Scotland, which is part of why I love living here :)

Sir Jackson Peaks - thank you very much - flattery is always welcome on this blog - come back often :)

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