A Mermaid Moment


Somewhere I read that each era gets the cryptid/monster it deserves. So the Enlightenment gave us Frankenstein, embodying the fear of the new sciences; the 19th century produced Jekyll & Hyde alongside the exploration of the psyche; the fall of empires at the beginning of the 20th century saw the rise of The Mummy, the revenge of colonised people; mid-century UFOs mirrored the space race; and the hedonistic 80s/90s were the era of the sexy vampire.

So what do we get now, under threat of various environmental catastrophies? The mermaid, reminder of how the oceans may rise and swallow our cities, the elemental force of Nature swamp our civilisation, the liminal invade and conquer.

This is Tisiphone, named after one of the Greek Furies - specifically the spirit of revenge.

I am bending the rules a little here, since she is not technically a mermaid but a figurehead who has wrenched herself free from the prow of her ship.  She was devoted to her crew, led by the dashing Captaine Zachariah, and her wooden heart filled with rage when they were captured by a bunch of priggish admiralty men, hauled off to gaol accused of smuggling.  Now she creaks her way slowly along the holloways under cover of darkness, intent upon finding her boys and making their captors pay...

There are two mermaid-related projects currently in the works here at the Bizarrium.

This gorgeous creature is one of the characters I have created for a paper theatre - no name or story yet, since she only emerged from the shadows yesterday. But she is one of half-a-dozen denizens of the deep whose stage will be launched in mid-September, along with others so far entitled Steampunk, Gothic & Jardin. (Do follow along on Instagram - @itinerantbizarrium - if you fancy regular updates.)

The second mermaid-in-the-works will be the centrepiece of my Sanctuary exhibition, also in September.  She is currently but a pile of dismembered parts as I contemplate stitching tattoo designs upon her torso - so much easier before appendages are attached! And since she will be virtually life-size, she will definitely become awkward to manoeuvre. Once assembled, she will curl around an amazingly appropriate tile in the centre of the chancel floor which reads "to beautify my sanctuary". Pictures will follow as soon as there is anything discernable to see, I promise - for now, there is only a back-of-an-envelope doodle.

More to follow - I have a new book of mermaid lore arriving tomorrow, a pile of picture book beside my bed, and stories for the theatre & sanctuary merrow to dream up...