Beauty and the Beast

Made in 1995 my response to the brief of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ addresses the damaging effects of smoking.

At the time of receiving the brief I was spending a lot of time walking my dog on the beach. It was late January and the high tides were throwing up a large amount of fish. As I walked along the pebbles I was coming across a dead fish every ten yards or so. The fish had died with their mouths open – it looked such a painful and distressing way to die. Visually it was an incredibly powerful image.

I had been thinking about the ‘beauty’ of life and was looking for something ‘beastly’, something we do which damages life.

I decided to look at the effects smoking has on the body. My mental image of the fish lying dead on the beach – looking as if they had suffocated – made me think that I could use the idea of a fish gasping to illustrate how we suffocate our natural beauty when we smoke.

I bought three small goldfish and a glass tank and photographed them. When I bought the three fish I chose one of them because it looked really unhealthy, in anticipation of it dying of natural causes, which it did.

The text comes from a non-smoking document which I’ve long since discarded so I unfortunately I cannot reference its origin.


© Maria Short