Fabric Story

Kerry Sea’s designs are derived from her water colour paintings. She starts with photographing marine life to a depth of 3 metres. Most of Kerry’s photography folio has been built up while snorkeling. She had a small waterproof camera. To record the colours of clams and fish Kerry had to get herself down to a decent depth whilst fighting the force of her buoyant bum. To stop herself popping to the surface she has to grab onto a rock with one hand, hold herself steady in the current and try to focus the camera with the other hand. If the creature she was after hasn’t already swum away, she has to wait until it comes out, while holding her breath. In the case of clams this could be quite a while. They close up if a shadow goes over them, if you stir up the silt or clatter about. Focusing the camera was a really hit and miss affair. It’s a miracle any shots were shot at all.

Kerry uses her photos as a starting point for water colours. She zooms in on the patterns of the fish or clams and loves the way her paint colour diffuses and leaves patches of light in it, just like the ocean. It suits the subject matter so well. When she was living at sea, some of her designs came from her dinner. Her husband Jim is a keen spear fisherman. He was never allowed to fillet anything until it had been photographed from all angles. That’s why there is a Crayfish, a Coral trout, a Parrotfish and a Blackspot tuskfish in the design collection. It was always a dilemma when she caught something beautiful. It was a shame to have to eat it – but when you live at sea you can’t just nip to Coles. At least the beauty was captured for ever. A Mahi Mahi, or Dolphinfish was caught one day. It was glistening gold when it came out of the water. It change to blue and olive green, then its spots glowed cobalt blue before it flushed with violet and white. The Lionfish design comes from a gorgeous creature met under the pier one day. Both the Bedfordi flatworm and the Spanish dancer were found in rockpools, put into containers to be photographed and then returned home. It was so cool watching them swimming. The Spanish dancer has a completely different coloured underside to its top. It weaves and twirls as it moves, flashing its spotty bits.

Kerry translates her paintings into digital files which can be used for a wide range of products.

Kerry studied Art and Design in the UK and counts herself lucky to have discovered the underwater world when she was a young traveller. The initial impact of the intensity of colour of Australia’s marine life has never left her.