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  • Writer's pictureAhmed Salama

On Creating An Urn For An Extinct Sea Creature

The exquisite artwork for our Vigil for the Smooth Handfish was created by artist and designer, Ahmed Salama. In this blog post, he shares his process with us.

What struck me the most upon learning of the extinction of the Smooth Handfish, was the lack of photographic record of its life on Earth. The idea of only ever engaging with its being through the abstraction of a scientific illustration or holotype, affected my relationship with its loss. Never being able to 'see' it made its absence all the more heartbreaking.

In a world where our post-death avatars live through the trail of imagery we leave behind, what becomes of life unrecorded?

My idea was to depict something that would almost feel like it was from a distant past...

A fragile antiquity representing the finality of extinction and an antidote to the permanence of digital representation.

The depiction of the Smooth Handfish on an urn is abstracted enough from reality that it elevates the status of the fish to a modern-day ancient relic, almost.

Almost as if to say: nature won’t be around forever, and you don't get to see it in high definition VR when it leaves us.

Embalmed within its delicate ceramic ornament, is the finality of the Smooth Handfish's life and death - a fossilized imprint of its crucifixion and now distant Avatar. I played around with the poses of the fish to make them feel like they were floating upwards towards the surface of the water above. It's essentially a fish crucifixion and ascension.

Artwork and words by Ahmed Salama


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