Saturday 12 September 2015

How do mermaids make babies: animation artist ' explains'

At last week's Women's History Network Conference artist Professor Joan Ashworth was talking about her animation of suffrage campaigner Sylvia Pankhurst.
But Joan also referred to an animation none of us had seen before: 'How Mermaids Breed'. She made this in 2002.

The Facts of Mer-Life ...

And for those of you who want to know how ladies with tails achieve the feat of growing and delivering a merbaby, here's the answer.
First of all the mermaid wakens to her biological bell ringing: it's time to become a mamma.
She surges up, hauls herself onto the beach and lays her eggs, through a slit in her lower fin. She then buries them under light sand.
Then, she and the mermaid team wreck a seaman. Not with Syren-like beguiling calls but by taking up the corners of the sea as if it's a sheet, then shaking it out until the poor baby-father's boat capsizes.
Gently, the team take him below. While he's out of it they apply an ingenious pump and extract semen from him. Under the watchful eye of the senior Matron-mermaid they keep him from drowning with another of their clever machines.
Finally, he's escorted up to safety. He thinks he's just had a dream. And the mer-mother-to be takes the flagon containing his donation and injects the eggs.
A little while later the lighthouse beam shows us the babies hatching and their return to the underworld (see pic below). So now we know. This is how mermaids make babies. For sure.

Different sorts of mermaids

These mermaids are neither ravening vamps nor sea-porn maidens. They're kindly slow creatures, like dugongs-cum-Henry Moore sculptures, and they probably have degrees in mechanical engineering too.
You have to see their clever contraptions, including the hourglass, and enjoy the sound effects.
Joan Ashworth's fascinating work can be seen at The book, Shaped by Water, and the DVD are available to buy there.

No comments: