A Very Different Little Mermaid

Vision of the Islands Bronze 10 x 5 x 4

I was on a deadline for a show and making a series based upon my interpretations of women in mythology. One such figure was Vision of the Islands a concept inspired by the myth of the mermaid.

I’ll let you in on a little secret I had every intention to sculpt this mermaid with an eye on the traditional past. A typical version of  a round-bodied, large breasted, long blonde or red-haired woman.  The one that had been in every reproduction throughout History. This woman I created however had her own ideas.

Last in a series of five sculptures based on mythology, I had done all the others, and this one was my homage to the mermaid. Yet the woman in wax eluded me. I tried for round; she wanted to be sleek and tall. I tried for plump; she wanted toned and muscular. Lastly, her head, I tried for blonde and English with long hair to the waist; she fought me again. What I ended up with was a sleek, muscled, proud chin up, bald black woman.

In frustration, I phoned my best mate, Fabienne, who had been my sounding board through this whole series and whose feedback was invaluable to me. I vented my frustration on her. I said of the mermaid that had apparently created herself, “I was trying for traditional and what I got was a woman who looks like Grace Jones!” ”And?” my friend replied dryly. “And, it can’t be. It’s scandalous! How will it ever be excepted?” I went on, “I have a knife, literally to her throat, poised to cut off her head and replace it with a version that people will recognize.” “And?” “And, I can’t do it, I just can’t

We hung up.  I paced for hours, knife in hand, finally sleeping in exhaustion. It was then, I that world between sleep and consciousness, that the mermaid’s image came to me. “Of course!” I cried “That’s it!” On their journeys, this image is the one the sailors would have seen though the islands they would have sailed past. This is the woman the sailors would have seen in their dreams and hallucinations. Of course!
The mermaid had shown me who she truly was, and when I shed all my preconceived ideas, let her truly speak; there she was, in all her pride and strength.

3 thoughts on “A Very Different Little Mermaid

  1. Preconceived ideas are exactly the ones we want to shatter so that people can see differently and not what they expect. That’s one of hte artist’s jobs. This mermaid is so much more powerful than a conventional one would have been.

    1. Thank you Gabriele,
      As usual your words describe what I was trying for. Sorry for this very too late reply, but at least we are in touch in other ways. Take care my friend and go on with your beautiful music. xx

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