Treadgold Fish - anti-plastic art, help me fillet!

by Pete Codling - Artist in Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom

Treadgold Fish - anti-plastic art, help me fillet!
We did it
On 16th July 2019 we successfully raised £5,570 with 35 supporters in 28 days

I am making a giant sculpture of a fish in the shape of our city's star and crescent motif using scrap metal from Treadgolds in Portsea.

by Pete Codling - Artist in Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to exhibit a sculpture in Gun Wharf Quays for the Portsmouth Seafood Festival at the end of this month 28th -30th June. 

They love the idea and giving it a prime location. I am also hoping to exhibit the sculpture around Portsmouth this year at various venues and events to help raise awareness of the plastic crisis.   

I am currently working in the Treadgolds Heritage Museum in Bishop Street Portsea, an amazing place full of scrap metal and old metal working tools and hardware. As a guest of The John Pounds Trust, who are custodians of the building, I have started making a sculpture to help them use up the scrap material as they need to clear the building for their own restoration project. 

I initially started off with full sponsorship to cover my time and costs but unfortunately this hasn't worked out. But the sculpture has started and nearly half of the work done already, so a great shame to simply abandon ship now. Only one week to go...

So now I quickly need to find new sponsors, patrons or an owner for the artwork. Can you help get this made? Every bit will help make this happen and raise awareness of the message behind the artwork. 

The ambitious piece is inspired by the shape of our Pompey 'star and crescent' with a mix of the 'Jonah and the Whale' story and my love of 'drawing with steel'. The hollow shape of the fish allows it to be filled up by the public with plastic bottles, in comment on the environmental crisis we have all created.

Inside the hollow fish is a life size man wasting time on his mobile phone. He will still be visible as the plastic bottles fill up. A solar powered light will make it glow at night and you can watched him slowly swallowed by plastic bottles. It be emptied regularly, bottles recycled. 

I have used the reference to Jonah and the Whale ( dag gadol = big fish) as a way to convey this crisis and as an international and multi- cultural and faith story we can all relate to. He was told to warn his people of a pending disaster by choose to run away, he got swallowed by a big fish and after three days, feeling gutted, and regurgitated, he went back with his warning to save the world! Something I think we are all guilty of doing after being warned by the god of BBC Sir David Attenborough... We have ignored the warnings and now face the wrath of plastic.

All of the rusty steel is being upcycled or recycled from the old stock of the warehouse which was abandoned 'Mary Celeste' style, after being open and working from 1809 - 1988 with forge and metal work shops and hardware boarded up like a time capsule covered in dust and cobwebs. A treasure of Portsmouth's industrial and trade skill history. A truly amazing place and wonderful opportunity to use the material up before it gets emptied for scrap. 

Pop down to see me working and you can even make a small wire fish to add to the design, they will become the scales on the bigger fish. The local community garden group have already been having fun helping me to make some.

If you want to know more about me as an artist and my Pompey credentials check out my Instagram, twitter, FB and website:  to see local artworks like St Edmund's School gates, John Pounds Community Centre, Arundel Street Precinct to name a few. I also have some huge charcoal drawings hanging in Portsmouth Cathedral called Soup of Souls, full of local maritime stories. Go have a look before July 5th! 

And keep an eye out around the city this summer for the artwork you have helped to make ;-)

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully thank you for helping make this artwork happen. Best wishes Pete


Got an idea like this?

Our crowd has raised over £70 million for bright ideas and good causes.