Mutants from Pollutants
Much of the outstanding work undertaken by David Attenborough, Blue Planet, SKY Ocean Rescue and others shocks us into a realisation that we are destroying our planet. In Metamorfishes, we have taken a different approach, based upon images of invented mutants and gentle satire.
The image of the Crushedacean, for example, has the base form of a lobster, to which features of frogs and snails have been added. This mutant creature is held within a crushed drink can. The reader gets a sense of humour and tragedy simultaneously. This is accompanied by facts about discarded cans (their numbers and the time it takes for a can to disintegrate) along with a poem about beach barbecues and the casual way in which many of us, quite thoughtlessly, contribute to the engulfing problems of pollution.
The set of 22 short poems often refers to well-known characters such as Captain Morgan and Queen Cleopatra and takes a satirical perspective upon the human behaviours which are destroying our marine world. Each one combines a reference to a type of pollutant and to the mutant presented in Nicola’s illustration, as well as seeking an image to add some humour but also to fix the image more securely in the reader’s mind.
Looking at ‘Crushedacean’ again, it starts in a colloquial way with references to a “barbie” and “an easy joke” to suggest the kind of context in which we are all inclined to be careless. The uniting image is that of a “parody of Noah’s Ark” – in other words, several sea creatures being crushed into an overcrowded vessel, thereby destroying them, in contrast to Noah's Ark which preserved the world's animal species. The poem concludes by referring to Nicola’s invented creature as an “underwater mobster”.
Creatures once beautiful or remarkable have been distorted into something threatening.
The hard facts are never lost, appearing in subtitles and encircling smaller images of the pollutant in the spotlight. To give the book the semblance of an academic text, each double-page spread is initiated by a witty Latinate name for the transformed species. Irresistible and important!