Our good friend, John Welson, kindly shared the following siren images with us, and I include his original commentary: “In 1969/70 I painted this painting (in two different versions):
Whilst it acquired the title of, ‘Drama in the Paddock’ having just found an old photo of the work I see that on the rear of the photograph it had a different title, for back then I titled it, ‘The Time of the Mermaid’.
I revisited the theme a couple of times in later years.
Darren and I recently took a trip to Battlesbridge – an historic village in Essex that is famous for its Victorian mill, which has since been converted into an antiques centre. The former mill houses many antique collectibles, as well an extensive selection of craft materials that are perfect for collaging. Among them, we discovered the below siren statue.
Our global network of researchers at firstname.lastname@example.org are dedicated to finding sirens all over the world. Can you help them in their mission to uncover the secrets of the sirens?
Our dear friend and regular contributor to the blog, John Richardson, recently went siren spotting in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and kindly shared this report with us: “Wandering through Stamford we spotted this…..We liked the image and the play on words which it suggested to us…”. The results of this fruitful excursion are displayed below.
Taya: The international spirit of the Surrealist Exhibition in Cairo is reflected here in the hybrid union of the creature’s three culturally distinct heads, including (from left to right) that of a Moai statue from Easter Island, an ancient Greek sculpture from the Classical period and an ancient Egyptian mummy from the host country, all of which were sourced from Harter’s Picture Archive for Collage and Illustration.
Darren: I sourced the torso from an old favourite of mine – Heck’s Pictorial Archive of Nature and Science, from the section on anatomical bodies. I was struck by the positioning of the arms, which I read as a welcoming gesture and immediately brought back fond memories of how I felt when I was in Cairo amongst my surrealist comrades, who embraced La Sirena with open arms. I cannot think of a more fitting gesture to grace the cover of the anthology for the International Exhibition of Surrealism, with its emphasis on internationalism, open to all.
The butterfly wings were taken from another of my favourite books: The Observer Book of Butterflies. I am constantly drawn to butterflies because of their association with flight, freedom, transformation, rebirth and hope, and, again, these associations were wedded to my experiences of flying to Cairo and being part of the exhibition, which was truly transformative.
Daina: I’ve always been fond of bestiaries and fantastical creatures like those imagined by Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516), Peter Bruegel the Elder (1525? – 1569) and J J Grandville (1803 – 1847). I love medieval bestiaries and pull a lot of inspiration for my work from such books.
The hips came from an image of, Pan, the Greek god of Shepards and the mountain wilds. The tail came from an engraving, DRAGON, 1640. Draco Aethiopicus. Woodcut from Ulisse Aldrovandi’s ‘Serpentum et Draconium Historiae’, Bologna, Italy, 1640.
I can’t recall where the image of Pan came from exactly. It might have been from the book Treasury of Fantastical and Mythological Creatures: 1087 Renderings from Historical Sources by Richard Huber.
Doug: For the legs, I used a reversed stock image of a knight in full body armour.
This turns out to be a 16th century wood engraving by Vecellio Cesare, a cousin of Titian! The metal ‘scales’ on the legs made me think of birds and reptiles, so I found textbook engravings of chicken feet and added them on.
We would like to thank our dear friend, Christine Haller – whom we had the pleasure of meeting at the International Exhibition of Surrealism in Cairo – for sending us an image of an Egyptian siren, along with the following caption: “As I noticed, you collect images of sirens, and I would love to share a photo of a gorgeous one that I encountered during a visit at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is part of an Egyptian object which shows many other fantastic creatures”.
Both the siren and the mystery object it inhabits are not accompanied with a description and we would be most grateful to learn more about them. Thus, should you uncover any of their secrets, please alert our research team at email@example.com, where we can categorise the object and continue to curate an international database of sirens.