I’ve always loved dinosaurs and was lucky enough as a child to spend time in the little town of Lyme Regis on Britain’s south coast. This port is famous for its fossil-bearing rocks and was the home of Mary Anning – a key figure in the history of paleontology. She was the Queen Victoria of fossil hunting and is credited as the first person to correctly identify the Ichthyosaur (‘fish lizard’) from specimens she discovered.
▲ The seafront at Lyme Regis, with the fossil bearing Blue Lias cliffs in the distance.
The tangled remains of these dolphin-like creatures have always fascinated me. The mass of teeth, ribs and flipper-bones take on a beautiful haunting quality as they surround the huge, empty eye sockets. The process of decay means that remains are often scattered and jumbled and it was a real challenge for early paleontologists to try and reorganise skeletons into the order they possessed in life.
I wanted to make a surface design which not only used ichthyosaur skeletons but incorporated the themes of puzzle and Lyme Regis’ Victorian heritage. I drew inspiration from children’s wooden puzzle toys for the geometrical splicing. The porcelain-blue and addition of the numerals in copperplate script evokes Victorian sensibilities and their methods of cataloguing specimens.