|Ann-Marie Tully, Ningyo. Earthenware, porcelain, cobalt. 145mm (L) x 40mm (W) x 45mm (D).|
A Ningyo is a mermaid or fish-like creature from Japanese folklore. This porcelain sculpture references this in figurative style, and the use of pattern; also referencing wider instances of mermaid mythology through the inclusion of an image of a western sailing ship on the figure. The small scale of the piece references another Japanese tradition - that of Netsuke: the production of very small sculptural objects. The blue renderings resemble tattoos, another Japanese tradition; but also a maritime tradition that crosses cultural boundaries. The blue colour references numerous decorative porcelain traditions (Delft, Chinese blue-ware, Willow etc.); as well as mythic tattooing practices, such as the blue facially tattooed women of the Aures Mountains region of northeastern Algeria, who believe that tattoos provide protection, luck and beauty.
Ningyo divination bowl
180mm (diameter) x 60mm (D)
A Ningyo is a mermaid or fish-like creature from Japanese folklore. This porcelain bowl references this myth by way of inclusion of an Ukiyo-e mermaid image, juxtaposed with images drawn from San rock art that appears to represent fish-like people, and freshwater mormyrid fish - pointing to the many cultural instances of myths of fish-human transmogrification in human cosmology.
The bowl format of the work references the ubiquitous practice of divination in bowls: sortilege - the casting and interpretation of lots, or sortes (sticks, stones, bones, etc.) in search of answers to life’s conundrums; and augury - the qualitative assessment of shapes and proximities, for example the examination of dismembered animal remains in search of supernatural portents.