The second sculpture installed here from Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable exhibition is Mermaid – a bronze of a familiar mythical figure.
For the ancients, water was the element that symbolised divinatory power, prophetic ability and inspiration. This sculpture likely relates to the myths that sprung up around Alexander the Great in the millennia following his death in 323 BCE. The 'Alexander Romance’ includes the story of a mermaid who stops ships at sea to ask the question ‘Does King Alexander live?’ - a reference to the King's legend rather than his mortal body. If the answer is yes she allows the sailors safe passage, singing and exquisitely as she does so. If no, she falls into a rage, her appearance becoming monstrous, before she sinks the ship and its crew, leaving no trace.
This sculpture is part of Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable series, first exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale.