The Folkestone Mermaid

I have grown rather fond of the Folkestone Mermaid. The bronze statue, by Cornelia Parker, was commissioned for the Folkestone Triennial in 2011 and the artist invited all women in the town to apply to model for her.

I like and admire the artist’s decision to have a strong and robust figure as a model, rather than the unhealthy and unrealistic shapes too often held up as shapes to which women should aspire. The link above is to the Daily Mail for two reasons: it is a decent and informative article, with good photographs and quotes. It is also followed by the sort of poisonous misogynistic comments are too often featured in below the line responses, aimed at women and their body shapes. Know your enemy.

Not everyone agrees that this how a mermaid should look: you may have noticed a lack of tail. I am also fond of the Folkestone Urban Sirens: a group of women who dress up the statue by night in protest against this dearth of tailed-similarity to her Little Mermaid sister in Copenhagen.

Last month, it was announced that the Folkestone Mermaid will be staying for good, after she was bought for the town.  I was lucky enough to wave to her this week and hope that she stays, looking out to sea, to inspire more artists, women of all shapes and sizes and phantom-statue-costumiers by night.


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