As a Somerset printmaker I was invited to join nine other artists on a project entitled ‘Somerset’s Brilliant Coast’ funded by Somerset Wildlife Trust and Hinkley C Nuclear Power station. Learning about our coastline with a Marine Biologist, a Geologist and other experts to educate us has been a joyous learning experience.

Last year I was wondering about what aspect I could cover when quite by chance I met Andy Don, an International Eel expert.

Having lived close to the River Parrett in the early 80s I knew a bit about eels and the elver fishing that went on, but I had no idea of the amazing story and history of this fish.

I had found my subject!

Andy is a Fellow of the Institute of Fisheries Management amongst other things, and a font of knowledge about his specialism, eels. He has been my mentor, feeding me the latest scientific information and the reasons why they have dramatically declined over the last forty years. They are a great barometer for the wider environment

I read all I could about them and started to look with new vision at my local environment of the Somerset Levels, the rivers heading out into the estuary of Bridgwater Bay and the Bristol Channel.

I could not believe that the dramatic saga of eels was unfolding annually on my doorstep. I felt compelled to tell their story in print, to make an audience aware of what we may be losing due to man-made structures, such as weirs and dams, pumping stations, hydropower plants, and large intakes like Hinkley Point power station!  Then there is Climate Change – altering the way that the ocean currents operate, novel parasites, and the ubiquitous issue of plastics in our watercourses and oceans.

Lockdown gave me the opportunity to experiment with printmaking, to create in print, my interpretation of the eel story, happening in real-time month by month in my local rivers and coastline.  I walked with a sketchbook, capturing the environment the eels passed through on their migration to and from the Sargasso Sea.

The decline of Eels No 1: Yellow Eels 

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 2: Escapement

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 3: Sushi Survivor

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 4: Passing through Burnham on Sea

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 7, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 5: Westward Ho!

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 20, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 6: Life and death

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 20, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm  £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 7: Eggs and Larvae

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 60 x 85 cm £980 (50 x 75 cm £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 8: Changing climate disrupted gyres

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 10, 60 x 85 cm £980 (50 x 75 cm £780 unframed)

The decline of Eels No 9: Passing the Azores

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 20, 60 x 85 cm £980 (50 x 75 cm £780 framed)

The decline of Eels No 10: Rheotaxis (Passing Minehead)

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 60 x 85 cm £980 (50 x 75 cm £780 framed)

The decline of Eels No 11: Hinkley and Steart Marshes

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 6, 60 x 85 cm £980 (50 x 75 cm £780 framed)

The decline of Eels No 12: The greed of man

Woodcut, lino & stencils, edition of 9, 85 x 60 cm £980 (75 x 50 cm £780 unframed)

Discover more of Julia's work

This series of prints will be on display as part of The Natural Eye 2021, the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition from 14 to 24 October 

View The Natural Eye 2021