Mermaids, Buxton and the Sprit of Water
A festival inspired by 'The Buxton Mermaid'
May - June 2019
Tel: 01629 533540
The Half Fish Festival was a celebration of all things Mermaid for children, adults and anyone with a tail.
With mermaid clubs springing up all over the country, there has never been a better time to investigate this cultural phenomenon.
We live in a town that is famous for its water but what lurks beneath? To open up this conversation, we presented a flurry of events, from the sunny shallows of kids’ art workshops to the dark depths of an urban fairy tale, from a storytelling masterclass with an award-winning writer to an interview with a real-life ‘professional mermaid’. Children were able to create their own mythical creature in artist-led workshops that were free and include all materials. Adults were enthralled by the research and stories embedded in the town’s most valuable resource.
The festival was inspired by ‘The Buxton Mermaid’ exhibit, a fascinating curio that lives in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. This world-famous exhibit, made from fish skin and human hair, has a fascinating history. Conservator Anita Hollinshead revealed her research, after studying the Buxton Mermaid for her MA in the Conservation of Historic Objects.
Rob Young was so inspired by The Buxton Mermaid, created a cluster of artworks, from images of Blakemere Pool (where rumour has it, a mermaid still lives) to photographs of the Peak District’s only synchronised swimming club.
The festival opened with a workshop from Buxton’s own environmental artist and storyteller, Gordon MacLellan (Creeping Toad). It ended with a world-premiere of Rob Young’s short story Deep, that brings the Buxton Mermaid to life in a contemporary tale, shared in an intimate gallery setting.
Buxton and Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6DA Tel: 01629 533540.
Green Man Gallery, Hardwick Hall, Hardwick Square South, Buxton. Derbyshire, SK17 6PY. Tel: 01298 937 375
Thursday - 30th May
BUXTON MUSEUM & GALLERY
MERMAIDS AND MONSTERS
2 – 4 pm
Art workshop with Gordon MacLellan: make a mermaid, a sea serpent, a fluttering sea horse or some wild and wonderful creatures no one has ever met before.
Friday - 31st May
GREEN MAN GALLERY
10.30 – 11.30am
Inspired by ‘The Buxton Mermaid’, recreate your own idea of this mythical creature, using a variety of art materials, then place her in your very own sea. A drop-in workshop with Artist and Educator Anna Spratt.
INTERVIEW WITH A MERMAID
12 – 1pm
Anita Jasso is a ‘professional’ mermaid, with a breath-hold of 5 minutes, who can free-dive to 40m. You may have seen her on the ITV drama, Butterfly, starring Anna Friel. In conversation with Rob Young.
1.30 – 2.30pm
Conservator Anita Hollinshead will be revealing her research, after studying ‘The Buxton Mermaid’exhibitfor her MA in the Conservation of Historic Objects at the University of Lincoln.
MERMAID: THE MOVIE
3 – 4pm
Former BAFTA Screenplay Judge, Rob Young, will give a one-hour crash course in how to write a movie. It’s Film School in an hour! A warm, witty and welcoming workshop in the craft of storytelling. Free, but booking essential.
D E E P
6 – 7pm
The world premiere of a short story by award-winning writer Rob Young, inspired by The Buxton Mermaid and the ‘haunted’ pool at Blake Mere. D E E P tells the story of Jan, a Buxton boy who discovers that there’s something strange in the water. A darkly-comic urban fairy-tail for Young Adults (older adults welcome too). Performed by Buxton actress, Sarah Day.
Saturday - 1st June
BUXTON MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
A MERMAID MUSEUM
2 – 4pm
A Mermaid Museum: alternative mermaids, fierce mermaids, shark spirits and exhibitions: help us remember the origins of the Museum mermaid by making our own Mermaid Museum