blogDobhar chu

July 21, 2015


New piece for Black Tides.

For Black Tides, each artist was asked to give their own visual interpretations of aquatic myth and legend. Being a lover of mythology, folklore and cryptozoology, I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the event.

With such a vast theme, I had a difficult time choosing a subject. As with selecting my animal for Creature Feature last year, I wanted to choose something slightly obscure. Mermaids, Nessie, Kraken, and anything Greek was probably going to be snagged right-off-the-bat, so I didn’t even put them on my list. Despite eliminating that batch of creatures, my initial list was still fairly long. In the end, I went with the Dobhar chu of Irish lore.

Dobhar chu is the Irish “water hound” that plagues the country’s lakes and waterways. These monsters are said to be large, around 7 feet long, with an appetite for human flesh. Physical descriptions of the creature vary, but I went with the giant-killer-albino-otter version for my piece. Although they are water inhabitants, accounts state they are able to travel well on land, making them an even greater threat. For me, the most terrifying part of Dobhar chu stories is that they travel in pairs. If one is killed, it emits a death whistle just before dying, signaling for the partner to avenge its death. There is basically NO ESCAPE from these things. The story of Grace McGloighlin chronicles such a frightful scenario and provided inspiration for my design.

Now, these things are described as cryptids and are RUMORED to have travelled as far as the United States. Given some more recently documented otter attacks, I lean more on the “they totally exist” side. Otters are cute, but they can be viscous.——(BEWARE, THIS NEXT LINK IS DISTURBING!!!)——Through this project, I learned they can even be downright insane.

For my border, I chose water and bog plants found in Ireland as inspiration. Giant Rhubarb and Ivy-Leaved Crowfoot flank the bottom, while Foxglove flowers and Hares-tale Cottongrass run along the top. To aid in giving the piece an overall dark feel, I used a black ground for my central image. My love of green is no secret, but because the story is an Irish tale, I had to channel the spirit-hue of the “Emerald Isle”. To capture the terror that these creatures have been said to evoke, I went a little more gory than usual. Sorry for the blood, it was necessary.

Black Tides will be up at Green Bench Brewing for one evening, July 25, 2015. After that, the show will be moved to Black Amethyst Tattoo Gallery until the end of August.


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