ELENA Zhuravskaya, an amateur artist from Kiev, Ukraine, uses fish bones, scales and even their boiled eyes to assemble amazing paintings on velvet canvases. Although her work is virtually unknown outside her native country, I hope this article changes that.

I found photos of Elena’s works on a wonderful-yet-obscure blog called Viola, and after doing some “digging” I was able to find more info on this wonderful artist and her unique trade. Zhuravskaya, who works as an architect in Kiev, has a very interesting hobby - she likes to use fish leftovers (bones, scales, eyes) to create detailed ivory-like paintings on dark velvet canvases.

The self-taught artist has invented a number of bone-processing techniques which allow her to manipulate the fine medium into whatever shape she desires, although she admits working with such delicate materials is a painstaking process. So far, her fishy artworks have been displayed in various galleries around Kiev, leaving art-enthusiasts in awe of both her bizarre medium choice and amazing attention to detail. Elena began working with fish bones and scales seven years ago, after meeting a girl artist whose works also incorporated fish parts. After seeing some of her works, she felt inspired to use the strange material to create her own original art. It was a good thing both the artist and her husband were avid fishermen and thus able to catch their own work material, instead of buying fish from the market.

She likes to think that the whole family is involved in the creative process, even the cat, who nibbles on the bones clearing any leftover meat. They all love meat dishes and that means there’s always material to be found in their refrigerator. Even her neighbours and friends help out by bringing her all kinds of new fish, some with really nicely-shaped bones.

As you can imagine, creating this kind of detailed paintings requires mountains of patience, but Elena doesn’t mind spending time doing what she loves.                                  –OC