05 July 2020

When the Tide Goes Out

When the Tide Goes Out    oil on canvas   92 cm x 112 cm

What do you find when the tide goes out? Abandoned fishing nets are ubiquitous, and I've found pretty much everything in this painting on a seashore somewhere. Except the mermaid. I haven't found a mermaid. I really don't want to.
Mermaids are the ultimate Dangerous Women, luring poor randy little innocent sailor-boys to their doom or something. When I was in primary school we learnt a sea shanty that was popular among sailors in the seventeenth century, if not earlier. It describes a Mermaid sitting on a rock “with a comb and a glass in her hand”, an image you can find in fourteenth century manuscripts, so it's been around for a long time.
Seeing what is happening to the oceans, I reckon these days she'd be angrier and a lot nastier than the most degenerate old salt could imagine.

But what if she's moved with the times? What if she's traded her mirror for the current symbol of vanity – the phone, and amuses herself taking selfies, sexting her victims and enthusiastically spreading mayhem, disinformation and confusion on social media? Don't imagine for a moment that a twenty-first century mermaid is a cute, sanitised fishy Disney Princess.
And really, really, hope you don't meet one when the tide goes out.

You can see this painting and the two below in the Dangerous Women exhibition at the Nolan Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart until at least the end of July 2020
If you want to hear a lively version of the sea shanty, here's a link

Balancing on the Edge - oil on canvas 50 cm x 40 cm

Our Lady of Disorderly Conduct  oil on canvas 50cm x 40cm
Some say the popular Mediaeval new year Feast of Fools began in pagan Rome to welcome the returning light after mid-winter. The Lord of Misrule turned the hierarchy on its head, jesters reigned; kings served. Beggars rode; lords grovelled. Everyone dressed extravagantly, danced and sang and disrupted church services, children demanded treats. All was rowdiness and revelry. Then, having let off steam, they returned to their daily lives of drudgery, piety and obedience.
Artists are today's Lords and Ladies of Misrule, creators of glorious anarchy, enlivening everyday reality with intrigue, excitement and joy.


More King Island Gothic paintings:
Shane's Grassy Oppy
Return to the Island
King Island Gothic

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