Herring by Trev Clark

Herring by Trev Clark


This carving, in magnesium limestone, by Trev Clark, celebrates the word ‘Herring’, and was created as part of our exhibition ‘The Lost Words - Forget-me-not.’ For this exhibition artists have created a permanent record of the natural words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Size: 44 x 22cm


A fairly small silvery fish which is most abundant in coastal waters and is of widespread commercial importance.

Clupea and other genera, family Clupeidae (the herring family): several species, in particular (C. harengus), of the North Atlantic. The herring family also includes the sprats, shads, and pilchards

ORIGIN: Old English hǣring, hēring, of West Germanic Origin; related to Dutch haring and German Hering

From the middle ages on, HERRING (and cod) provided Atlantic Europe with most of its protein. They used to be called the silver darlings.

For the poorer people of Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, herring was absolutely crucial – tens of thousands of jobs and the nutrition of millions were dependent on the fish. Generations of young women, the herring girls, travelled to work in the sea ports when the season was at its height, seeking adventure, escape from home and a chance at an independent income. Scotland is full of songs about herring and recipes for cooking them.

Herring are small and tasty, full of the healthy oils we now buy in expensive food supplements. They are as slick and bright as mercury. They once existed in untold abundance – the word herring comes from the Old German for ‘multitude’. But now, herrings are in danger of becoming one of Britain’s lost foods. Let us not lose the word, too.

My starting point for the majority of work I produce is a kind of 'conceptual daydreaming' driven by processes and materials. So the word ‘herring’ – its letter shapes, its meaning – and the stone and making processes are all the raw material to be explored, investigated and played with. There is also the bonus of the letter R, the most interesting letter in the alphabet.

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