Georgina Baker – The Folkestone Mermaid

As 2021 sees the 10-year anniversary of the Folkestone Mermaid, CommunityAd thought they would catch up with none other than the mermaid herself, Georgina Baker where we discussed how the process started, the wonderful artwork in Folkestone and the newly designed Mermaid Miniature sculptures brought out for the 10-year celebration that have been selling like hot cakes!

 

To readers who may not be aware, can you tell us how you became the Folkestone Mermaid? 

In the summer of 2010, I cut out a small article from the Kentish Express newspaper, it said – ‘Wanted: One Mermaid, any shape or size.’

Artist Cornelia Parker was producing a life size bronze statue of a Folkestone Mermaid for the 2011 Triennial; she requested interested models to submit a photograph in swimwear striking the pose of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid. She was looking for a free spirit, any shape, size, or age welcome.

The article intrigued me, I had grown up with a mother who was an artist, and I was a qualified interior designer producing my own pieces of art. I was prompted further when a second request for a life model was posted through my letterbox, so decided to submit a photograph, which was taken of me sitting on a silver beanbag in my back garden.

Unexpectedly, Cornelia telephoned me to say that I had been shortlisted and to submit further photographs, from that I was selected to be her life model.

Moving forward, Cornelia chose a suitable boulder for me to sit on, which was delivered to Meltdowns Foundry in Ramsgate. This was where private casting of my body took place; an uncomfortable process yet every bit worthwhile.

The Folkestone Mermaid was placed in position at the Sunny Sands in Folkestone for 25th June 2011, the start of the Triennial. 2011 was an overwhelming year of publicity, having interviews with TV, radio, and newspapers. After which, the Folkestone Mermaid sat in her pose for the public to appreciate the artwork.

I felt proud to have modelled for this art piece and still do, it’s gratifying to wander down to the Sands and see both locals and tourists taking photographs of her prevailing the different weather, seeing children playing on her, and seeing the occasional seagull perching on her head. Her form moulds with her surroundings, feminine yet statuesque, a reflective figure evoking thought.

 

It’s been 10 years since the mermaid was installed. How does it feel being the Folkestone Mermaid and what would you say has been the best feedback/response you have received from the statue? 

I realise after 10 years that this statue is well loved for many reasons, it is an iconic part of Folkestone, it has sentimental value to some: an elderly gentleman explained recently that his wife had passed away four years prior to when the Folkestone Mermaid was created and her ashes were scattered from the spot where it was installed. He seemed emotional to have met me, and I was honoured that he had shared his story with me.

 

What do you enjoy most about the artwork of Folkestone?

I take pleasure in looking at all of the outside artworks in Folkestone and the Creative Quarter. I appreciate how much work goes into each piece and love the eclectic mix of art, something for everyone to enjoy when out walking around Folkestone.

 

Where did the Mermaid Miniature idea come from, how happy are you with the sculptures and where can local readers purchase them?  

It was whilst out walking during the COVID-19 lockdown, at the beginning of February 2021, that I came up with the idea to create the Folkestone Mermaid Miniatures.

I stopped to chat with a friend on the Old High Street, whose brother had orchestrated the 3D scanning of the Banksy plinth. I thought it would be a lovely idea to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of The Folkestone Mermaid by having a 3D scan of the sculpture to use in producing miniatures. I telephoned the same day and spoke to the Creative Foundation and then telephoned Cornelia Parker for her permission to proceed.

The enthusiasm for my idea gave me further incentive, so after a few enquiries I was given details of Matt Rowe, who was technically minded and was able to produce a 3D scan of the mermaid.

From that, he gave me the details of Hannah Richardson at R&R, 8 The Old High Street Folkestone, who has a 3D laser printer.

I approached Hannah with the idea, her mother Wendy was also in the shop and both seemed excited to take on the project.

Matt supplied the 3D scanned format to Hannah, which she had to simplify to produce the miniatures as the original was so detailed. It took perseverance with three attempts to finally produce an exact 3D model of The Folkestone Mermaid. I wanted them to look as close in colour to the original, so Hannah found a bronze paint, and then a green wash is applied to give a verdigris effect.

The product ideas were in collaboration: I came up with the idea of affordable £10 pebbles, Wendy came up with the broaches concept, and Hannah the miniatures sitting on the box frames of my photographs.

I get excited about the creations and when I go into the shop ideas start to roll. I wanted a necklace, and within an hour we had produced a miniature sitting on a laser cut shell design ready for retail.

The pebbles have been so popular and can be made to order at the shop, on www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RichardsonRichardson, or found on my Instagram page @folkestonemermaid3d.

 

Do you have any future plans or different visions for The Folkestone Mermaid over the next 10 years? 

Due to high demand, I have had permission from Cornelia Parker to carry on producing the Folkestone Mermaid Miniatures. My intention is to make available Christmas baubles and decorations, along with my own photographic prints to be displayed at R&R, 8 The Old High Street.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Folkestone? 

Folkestone is a beautiful place to live. I enjoy the Harbour, coast, the Leas, and the artworks. If it had not been for the lockdown, this project would never have happened as it delayed the Triennial for one year, providing me with the opportunity to re-ignite my creative skills. Thanks to everyone who have shown enthusiasm and support to the project.

 

See more of the Folkestone Mermaid Miniatures by visiting the Etsy shop and follow Georgina Baker on Instagram @folkestonemermaid3d.

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