The Art of Scrimshaw

New and exclusive exhibition opening this May!

The Art of Scrimshaw - hand etching on tooth

Opening Wednesday 3 May

A once traditional pastime of bygone whalers, now sought-after and rare, takes centre stage in our new and exclusive exhibition opening in two weeks, The Art of Scrimshaw!

From the nautical expression ‘to waste time’, the art of scrimshaw was the saviour of idle hands aboard the early historical whaling ships. Excess time was a curse for many seamen, with months passing between whale sightings, and whaling voyages that lasted several years.

The term scrimshaw refers to the carving and engraving of ivory, bone, seashells, antlers or horn. The scrimshaw that originated on whaling vessels was usually inspired by the ocean, depicting whaling journeys, portraits of sweethearts, ships, or mermaids sunbathing on rocks.

Housed within The Gary Tonkin Gallery, The Art of Scrimshaw exhibition is a permanent addition to our onsite experience exploring the history and creative process of scrimshaw, in the context of the whaling industry. 

The exhibition features awe-inspiring artwork from internationally renowned Scrimshander, Gary Tonkin, including his largest and most intricately carved piece, an intact 4-metre Sperm whale jawbone.

The Art of Scrimshaw opens on Wednesday 3 May 2023, and entry to this new exhibition is included within our admission ticket and Annual Pass membership.

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