I made this artwork last year as part of my Studio Arts assessment. In Studio Arts my focus was how fairytales, specifically The Little Mermaid, have evolved.
I was inspired by the Disney version of The Little Mermaid for my modern interpretation of the story that’s on the cover of the book. I used similar colours to the Disney film, which makes the cover familiar and inviting. It is only when you look inside the book that you see the tragic conclusion to the original Hans Christian Andersen tale (where the mermaid turns into sea foam).
Books and Disney films have always been a major part of my life, and I’ve realised that many people do not know the origin of some of the Disney films and, thus, the original ending of The Little Mermaid. I feel that the story has lost its meaning with time, like a game of Chinese Whispers, until it is not really the same story at all. It might have the same characters and basic plot, however, because the endings are very different, the meaning changes. I’m not saying that either of the stories is better than the other. I love both of them, but I do think it’s important that we recall the origins of the story, so we can uphold the culture.
This artwork started out as a second-hand book that was a collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories. I painted the cover and glued the figures onto it. The figures are my original designs and are made out of layers of cut paper. The inside of the book is handcut. I cut a few pages at the time, working layer by layer. It was really awkward because I had to clamp the pages that I’d already done (see image below) and it did rip at one point. I haven’t made many altered book artworks, but I enjoy altering books once I start (the first cut usually feels like sacrilege). I wrote a post about another altered book a couple of weeks ago, here’s a link to it, if you’re interested: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Inkheart Book Covers