Tom Davidson - 'Skating on Thin Ice' Maugean Skate (Zearuja maugeana)

Tom Davidson
'Skating on Thin Ice' Maugean Skate(Zearuja maugeana)
Original linocut 
Limited edition: 1/25

Artist Statement- Tom Davidson
Lately I’ve thought a lot about the risk of extinction, and the subsequent loss of biodiversity. Gone. Forever.

I wasn’t alive when it happened to the thylacine. But I did read the sad books and stare blankly at the black and white pictures of the last one…locked up in a wirey cage, put on show, and demonised to its demise.

What a loss it was. It changed Australia. Not only the remarkable animal itself, and the evolutionary history that gave rise to it, but we lost apex predation on an island continent. Decades later, we still mourn its loss, and the ecological consequences that have resulted…

The Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana), a peculiar looking living fossil of Gondwanaland faces a similar fate. With its pointy snout and tail littered with thorns, it spends it’s days hidden from sight, foraging the sea floor at the bottom of Macquarie harbour on Tassie’s west coast.

Unlike the thylacine, we can’t see its numbers dwindle. Perhaps we would be more inclined to step in and help if we could?Truth is big salmon and intensive aquaculture in Macquarie harbour are pushing these guys to the brink. @tanyaplibersek your response to this crisis with funding captive rearing does nothing to address the cause of the problem. It is a typical and deleterious human-centric mentally that shows us that you think you know better, and you can fix things with money. We must learn from the past, and the last few decades have taught us vital lessons…We need habitat not hatcheries, and the only sensible action is to protect the world heritage wilderness, it’s last refuge, from further degradation to ensure healthy water.

This work was submitted by the artist as part of Wild Island's Threatened Species Project 2023. One third of the proceeds will go to Tasmanian Orchid Conservation & Research Program and the Swift Parrot Surveying & Monitoring Program (in conjunction with BBF, TWS and GRANT) and will continue to support Friends of The Orford Bird Sancturary.

In 2022 Threatened Species Project proceeds went to Friends of The Orford Bird Sanctuary and the Miena Cider Gum Recovery Program.

Threatened Species Project, 3rd October - 5th November 2023
There are 683 species of plants and animals, including insects and other invertebrates, on Tasmania's Threatened Species List. Yes, there are the iconic ones so many people know about, but there are numerous species that are tiny, little known or ‘less attractive’, which are no less important to our rich and varied eco-system. This new exhibition will expand our understanding of the range & diversity of threatened species and educate of their plight. It also aims to raise much needed funds to go towards their support.

It’s a small thing we can do during an age of climate change, mass species decline and habitat loss.


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