Amniotic Seas…A musing

‘Once a mermaid fell in love with death’- Abyssus Abyssum Invocat

Artist Maggi Hambling said to use your work as your close confidant. I turn to painting when I am tired, desolate, joyful, when I am being unkind to myself; when I need oxygen. My mermaids are my inner world and I hope more than anything that it intrigues you- that it elicits a feeling. Maybe when you see it, it will make you want to stay beneath the water for a while in exposure to new currents. It also might make you want to come up for air.

My mermaids represent what is suffocating and beautiful; maybe they are prisoners or maybe partners. A mother of a girl and twins and a prevailing eating disorder gives way to a world that reveals and a world that warns. The material of water is one that slows down the human form. For a long time I have defined this feeling of otherness as feeling myself, underwater– of feeling that no matter how much you have to do, you somehow can’t get there or can’t get through it quickly enough. Mermaids in contemporary culture for me are like mothers- unpredictable and shape shifting. There is a liminality in which mermaids live, watching from frothy waves and coveting dry land. This place makes humans anxious. Mer-maidens are a mix of divine power and something horrible. They are like us and unlike us in the way they too crave otherness, act cruelly; and love the wrong way. In a watery world where food feels harmful, I understand the abduction of human life force.

Between the darker forces lies salient detail- my flowers intercept and stain. That’s what the flowers are about and in some ways, they are my children; the brightness of them and then surrounding them are all the truths of having children and not being well. I’m so used to people coming in close to my work and trying to enter those made up worlds. With this work people stand back, they tilt their heads and try to feel it.

It took me time to lean into this dark girliness, this mer-dream, this watery place in line with the madness of my house; this underwater true place. If you look closely there’s over fifteen layers of paint as I do and undo everything and realise that this too is a pattern I keep. The pink bits are my heart, and although sometimes the otherness prevails- I too fell in love with this death.

– Words by Rose Louey

Artist Rose Louey

Exhibition at Oigall Projects, Melbourne this November