Prawns’ Revenge

Well, it’s Australia Day and I’m taking a well deserved rest after a morning of cleaning up mess made by the rest of my family and their friends. I decided it was time to post another of my artworks, and what better pic to post on this auspicious day than one I did many years ago called Prawns’ Revenge …after all, throwing another ‘shrimp’ on the barbieย  is supposed to be something typically Australian isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ This sketch was inspired by one of my many childhood Xmas/New Year holidays to visit my grandparents who lived at Culburra, near Nowra on the NSW south coast.

Prawns' Revenge ~ (Click to enlarge)

Many years ago my grandfather, uncle and their friends and lots of other local residents would go ‘prawning’ at Lake Wollumboola (which was just down the end of their street) around this time each year when the prawns were ‘running’ (an event which only lasted for a couple of nights at the most and was dependent on the full moon I believe) and we would enjoy eating prawns for many days afterward. Contrary to the more recent advertising campaign that featured Paul Hogan offering to “slip an extra shrimp on the barbie”, back then we didn’t BBQ them, we only boiled them. (I don’t think I ate my first barbecued prawn until I was an adult.) The generally accepted practice was to bring back the huge hauls of the live saltwater beasties in large plastic tubs, eskies, clean bins or whatever was available, then transfer them all intoย  fresh water to make them convulse and regurgitate the contents of their gut. That way the prawns would be clean inside and fit for eating and wouldn’t need to be ‘de-veined’. Then of course they’d get boiled and finally put out of their misery.

Although I enjoyed eating the prawns I felt the way they were ‘processed’ was rather unfair to the poor old prawn, hence the inspiration for my sketch. I’m not sure how accurate my rendition of decapod anatomy is but I remember I had one of the cooked prawns as my model.

(Click to enlarge)

The ball-point pen sketch was done on a bright fluorescent orange coloured sheet of wrapping paper but when I scanned it the bright colour somehow unbalanced and obscured the details of the drawing so I’ve decided to present the main copy above as a sepia toned sketch. If you look carefully you can see a few people desperately trying to flee the monster prawn, which will most certainly eat them if it can, in it’s quest to avenge the slow and possibly painful deaths of the millions of its shrimpy relatives caught, tortured and devoured by the greedy humans.

Prawn Molecules ~ (Click to enlarge)

Funnily enough, when I removed my drawing from the album to put it in the scanner I discovered another drawing on the back which I’d forgotten I’d ever done. It’s a geometric design, also drawn on the same orange wrapping paper. It vaguely reminds me of prawn shaped strings of molecules so for want of a better title, that’s what it’s called. Unfortunately it didn’t scan very well, and a lot of the colour had leached out of the original paper onto the album page soย  although I’ve PhotoShopped it a bit to try to improve it, it’s still not very good, but here it is anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€



7 thoughts on “Prawns’ Revenge

  1. There was a short discussion about this post on my Facebook page so I’ve added it here…

    That’s amazing! Love the pictures. And I had similar childhood experiences with prawning only it was at my grandmother’s house near Swansea. It was one week after the full moon and we’d be out in the tinny with nets and buckets using flashlights to watch for the prawns’ eyes reflecting as they rode the drifting seaweed on the surface of the water. We caught fish with the nets too because they would be floating along backwards trying to eat the prawns and not see the boat behind them. I was traumatised by the deaths of the prawns as a kid but ate them. I haven’t been fishing or prawning since I was old enough to decide how and where I spend my time. I just didn’t see the need for it and didn’t want to cause pain and anguish. Such similar experiences!

    Thanks Michelle ๐Ÿ™‚ Just thinking back a bit more, I have this memory of standing beside a laundry tub full of prawns in fresh water. I must have been very young as I could only just see over the top. I felt very worried for the prawns as they thrashed around in the fresh water. Not sure if I’m remembering correctly or not but I think they even made a bit of a noise …a kind of tiny whistling, crackling squeal? I was glad when they were finally cooked & dead because I knew they weren’t scared or in pain any more. It was ok eat them then. Funny how these thoughts come back.

    Yes, they do make a noise like a high pitched scream. Its quite terrible to hear. There was a middle process that my parents started doing after the fresh water and that was to put them in the fridge to make them go to sleep so that they wouldn’t scream when they were boiled. But I can’t help feeling that it wasn’t much better that way.

    Love it!


  2. This is exactly why I find artists so facinating. That it would occur to someone to do a pen and ink drawing on wrapping paper is just so cool….and the way you’re casually all, ……Oh and I was scanning this one and found other one on the back that I completely forgot about. If I could produce such a thing I’d never, ever be able to forget about it but maybe I just think that because I can’t draw…..but for an artist forgotten pieces probably turn up all over the place. Anyhow, very nice. I like the concept. It reminds me of the karmic thinking that runs through my head…some of the things we do to animals, separating them from their young and such, how would humanity feel if someone were to do that to us?


    1. ๐Ÿ˜€ I think drawing on the wrapping paper was a result of both boredom on a family holiday and necessity as there was no other “interesting” paper around (just the lined, thin pages of a writing pad as I recall). I guess I also found the colour of the paper appealing and appropriate as it is reminiscent of the colour of cooked prawns, and the black ink on the orange did look rather stunning. If you look at the scan of the orange version you can see a darker coloured strip of orange on the right of the pic. That’s the glue from a piece of sticky tape on the back that I used to fix a tear in the paper before drawing on it. Over the years the glue has soaked through and changed the colour. Ah, the wonders of PhotoShop …I fixed that on the sepia version so it’s not as obvious, and some of the black ink had faded so I was able to enhance the contrast to bring out more of the details again.

      I used to glue my drawings into an old style photograph album that had dark grey thick paper pages. I soon decided to carefully remove my drawings from the old album and put them into one of the new (back then) “magnetic” albums with the clear plastic sheets that went over the top of the pictures. The pictures looked much nicer and didn’t need to be glued in anymore. A couple of my drawings wouldn’t lift off the grey pages very easily (too much glue) and in the case of the giant prawn & the ‘prawn molecules’ I decided that the prawn was the better picture so the one on the back of the page got “sacrificed” when the prawn pic was trimmed and put in the new album. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Oh The Revenge of The Prawns! That is a terrifying thought but funny at the same time. These are really amazing drawings. I love the Prawn Molecules, I think I could stare at it for hours. It makes me happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have no talent in the drawing or painting department so I have a special admiration for such talent like yours.

    I also enjoyed the family story also. My dad’s side of the family would have things called “shrimp boils”. I have never been able to eat any kind of sea creature or fishy like things either, but I remember on hot summer days they would have huge boiling pots outside. They would set up a picnic table covered with a plastic table cloth and just dump the shrimp right there and eat them. I usually had hot dogs but I couldn’t eat around the others and their shrimp feast. lol! Your story reminded me of those days.


    1. Thanks Angel ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve been thinking about maybe trying to fix up the Prawn Molecules a bit more. It definitely looked a lot brighter and happier when it was first done. Glad you like it in it’s current form though. Your family’s “shrimp boils” sound like they were a lot of fun for the family …but not for the shrimp of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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