4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
As a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, Philip Jepsen grew up with the iconic Little Mermaid statue. After visiting a replica in his adopted country, the United States of America, he became curious about where other such statues might be found. His research revealed that there is a great variety of mermaid statues gracing rocks and fountains the world over. When he realized that there was no reference book or website about these, Philip resolved to compile the non-fiction work Mermaids of Earth: Mermaid Statues From All Across Our Planet.
Initially, he examines the origins of these creatures who are half-human, half-fish. Greek and Roman mythology provide many details about their genesis, but mermaids or sirens also appear in many other myths, including Celtic, Polynesian, and Native American. Like The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, these are often the tragic love stories of mermaids and humans. That's only one theme, though. Just as they can sometimes shape-shift, the mermaids of the world play a range of roles. Some protect cities and some rescue sailors, while others lure them to their doom. The bulk of the book catalogues the mermaid statues by continent, with cross-references to the Mermaids of Earth website. I liked the informative text accompanying the images, sometimes with translations into English of the poems and other inscriptions on the statues. It's fascinating that the statues stem from so many eras; today's are likely to bear messages about ocean conservation.
In itself, this coffee table book is as beautiful as the art it describes. Full-colour photographs of the statues are reproduced on high-quality, glossy pages; the colour and details are exquisite. I loved the variety of locations, tales, and tails. Why do so many peoples share this fascination with part-humans who inhabit a watery realm? With so much art in galleries or private collections, it's impressive that mermaid statues tend to be public art. I loved the way this book raised my awareness. I have been to some of the places featured but did not always notice the mermaids - Trafalgar Square in London, for example.
Trafalgar Square honours a victory and its mermaids are connected with the sea in that they commemorate Admirals. They include a baby mermaid spraying water; in general, the sculptures show a dynamic interplay with the element of water. This book is awe-inspiring in that it highlights the artists’ skill in depicting fluid motion in the sculptures. It was interesting to note that many of these gifted mermaid sculptors are women. I could only have named Barbara Hepworth as a female sculptor before reading this book, so it was gratifying to learn something new.
Given the excellent presentation of this delightful book, I am happy to award it 4 out of 4 stars. Errors were few and minor and I could not fault it in any way. I recommend this unique and distinctive work to anyone in the market for a coffee table book. It would make an excellent gift for anyone who is fascinated by mermaids or who generally loves sculpture, travel, mythology, or anthropology. It wouldn't appeal if you wouldn't be apt to buy a glossy art book. If you're at all interested in the mermaids of Earth, however, it's worth checking the website.
Mermaids of Earth
View: on Bookshelves
Like ButterscotchCherrie's review? Post a comment saying so!