Time to leave the hustle and bustle of the future city behind, and delve into the deeps of the fantastic imagination. I’ll be looking at some aquatic creatures in this installment. Mermaids, for the most part.
Mermaids are scantily clad by definition, and they are traditionally associated with seduction: therefore, there is an abundance of images which do little more than indulge in female scantily-cladness for the sake of the predominantly male beholder. I’ve tried to steer away from those. I’ve also tried to steer away from the barbiedollish whimsy – a la Disney’s “Arielle” – which is the second most represented category.
Having filtered those images out, I was still left with a rich crop of mermaids – images in which the artist tried to capture something of the alien-ness of those subaquatic beings. Some emphasize the mermaid’s playfulness, others their ferocity, the potential danger they represent. You never know when they will drag you down and drown you.
This mermaid has found a good use for the debris that drifts down to the ground of the ocean! Whereas the one below is probably not someone you’d want to meet on a lonely beach at night.
Something of the horror of the deep dark water is captured in those more stylised representations.
There is something about the simplicity of this sketch, the soft flowing lines, which I find very appealing. Below, an ethereal wire sculpture, one of the most unusual contributions to this topic which I have found.
A mermaid out of the water is a sad thing indeed. How would she function if she were forced to live on land, among humans? Well, a wheelchair makes sense … but a mermaid who cannot swim, is just as depressing as a bird who can’t fly.
This stunning image is an environmentally conscious interpretation of the mermaid topic – and a protest against the results of pollution and industrial fishing practices, which have led many marine animals to the brink of extinction.
Not all merpeople are female. Here are two hunky mermen! And yes, the second image is a photograph – this Brazilian photographer caught my eye quite a little while ago with her gorgeous arrangements of body-painted people, which cleverly blur the boundary between photography and fantasy art.
There are merpeople, and then there are river folk. Northern and Eastern European folklore is populated by a good many water spirits who inhabit the slow-flowing rivers and dark lakes, the fens and bogs of the vast northern European lowlands. The German Nixe and Wassermann, the Scandinavian Neck, the Slavic Vodnic and Rusalka … you name them!
The following two images are illustrations by Yours Truly, for a German fairy tale about a young boy who goes to live with the water people when his family mistreats him, but eventually finds that he yearns again for the sunlight and the air.
Easily the best-known story about a mermaid is, of course, Hans Christian Andersen’s “The little Mermaid”. Here are two particularly haunting interpretations of that much-illustrated fairy tale.
This last image may not be a mermaid as such, but you’ll probably only notice that if you take a close look! Legs, not a tail. Well, who knows – it might be another little mermaid who has chosen to forego her tail in order to find love – or artistic creativity – among us humans.
All images are copyright the respective artist, and may not be reproduced without their permission.