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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Our dear friend, John Richardson, kindly shared with us these three wonderful collages of sirens.

Hand cut collage ‘Marine Forms I’ by John Richardson
Hand cut collage ‘Marine Forms II’ by John Richardson
Hand cut collage ‘Marine Forms III’ by John Richardson
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Enquiry La Sirena Tattoo

Images of La Sirena

Photograph of Patch’s mermaid tattoo

My beautiful, creative and talented friend, Patch (do check out her artwork here), recently shared a photograph of her mermaid tattoo on her thigh (pictured above) with me. What I found particularly striking about this image, was the uncanny resemblance it bore to Youki Desnos’ mermaid tattoo (pictured below), which is similarly positioned on her thigh.

Youki Desnos showing her mermaid tattoo (Robert Doisneau, Paris c.1950)

This chance encounter between the two mermaid tattoos really resonated with Patch, prompting her response to the image: ‘I love that shot, [Youki’s] confidence and the fact [the men] look impressed rather than letchy’. Indeed, both women can be seen controlling the gaze in their respective photographs and embracing their femininity through the siren figure.

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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Our good friend, Tracy Thursfield, kindly shared with us her wonderful painting of a siren, based on the Star card from the Tarot.

‘Starcard’ (Tracy Thursfield, 2022)
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Enquiry Exhibition La Sirena Tattoo

Images of La Sirena

I recently acquired the tattoo shown above right. It wasn’t until I showed it to the group that it was pointed out that it qualified as an image of La Sirena, both as a hybrid being capable of traversing earth and air, and because the sirens of the Homer’s Odyssey were female figures with wings.

The tattoo, by John at Bizarre Ink of Edinburgh, is based on the ‘Queen of the Night’ also known as the ‘Burney Relief’, shown at the top left. I had been fascinated by this figure for years, and finally got to experience her presence at the ‘Feminine Power’ exhibition at the British museum a few weeks ago. I was coming to a significant hinge-point in my life, a tattoo seemed an appropriate ritual marker, and I suddenly realised what it had to be.

The story of the Burney Relief is a mystery worthy of the pulps. Acquired from a dealer in the late nineteenth century, its exact origin is unknown and it was long thought to be a forgery. It has since been widely associated with Lilith, though current scholarship suggests it is a representation of the Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love OR Ishtar’s elder sister and arch-rival Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld. (The sisters were much later syncretised by the Greeks as Aphrodite and Hekate respectively.) This duality pleases me, and I suppose the tattoo represents whichever queen of the night I find myself in most need of at any given time.

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Enquiry Exhibition La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

‘Mami Wata’ Nigeria C19. From ‘Feminine Power: From the Divine to the Demonic’ at the British Museum.
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Enquiry La Sirena Poem

Images of La Sirena

Many thanks to our good friend, Dominic Tetrault, who recently came across these wonderful sirens, drawn by Robert Desnos – and has kindly shared them with us, at La Sirena.

‘Sirena (mermaid) teaching singing to a bird’ (Robert Desnos)
‘Sirena (mermaid) teaching singing to a bird’ (Robert Desnos)

Source for both images: Jacques Doucet literary library – https://bljd.sorbonne.fr/search?preset=19&view=medias&fbclid=IwAR2tfzUJ6p1tLXNhT2ECPf308qPdqDMTZCmCuDd7-9aqV9lShwkxm7sxCtg

The siren is an important figure in Desnos’s work and life. Here is one of several poems featuring sirens.

His partner and second great love, the artist, Youki (Lucie Badoud) was also associated with the siren, which she had tattooed on her thigh.

Poem – ‘Mermaid’ (1930), taken from ‘The Voice of Robert Desnos: Selected Poems’, Translated by William Kulik, The Sheep Meadow Press (Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York, 2004).
Youki Desnos showing her mermaid tattoo (Robert Doisneau, Paris c.1950)
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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Our dear friend, Christine Haller, recently tracked down this rather marvellous siren by Myrlade Constant, in Venice, at the Biennale.

‘Sirenes’ (detail) (Myrlande Constant, 2020)
‘Sirenes’ (Myrlande Constant, 2020)
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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Our very good friend, Irene Plazewska, kindly shared this wonderful image with us.

‘Mermaid’s Washing’ (Irene Plazewska)
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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Our dear friend, John Welson, has discovered another siren: ‘Wired and waiting. I called out to her, but her gaze was fixed upon the ocean, the rolling waves and turning tide…’

‘The Wired Mermaid of Llandudoch’ (John Welson)
‘The Wired Mermaid of Llandudoch’ (John Welson)
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Enquiry La Sirena

Images of La Sirena

Mélusine (one of the pictures from the series Les sept épées hors du fourreau in homage to Apollinaire) painted in 1957 oil on canvas, 150 x 50 cm, Private Collection) Toyen