What’s On

The Mermaids’ Rock

Opening view: Thursday 8 March, 6 – 9 pm

Exhibition dates: 8 – 17 March 2024

“From the Sirens of Greek Mythology luring in lovers with their beautiful song to the unlucky omens provoking treacherous storms in British folklore, Mermaids have long been ingrained in folklore cultures worldwide. Viewed as eroticised symbols of sexuality known for falling in love with their human counterparts, or as the ominous signifiers of perilous disasters, these mythical creatures represent duality, illusion and the unknown.

The Mermaid’s Rock brings together the work of eight visual artists following a month long residency at the Cyprus College of Art, August – September 2023. Funded by an Erasmus exchange scheme, the artists visited historical cultural sites across the island and practised traditional skills, including painting and ceramics. Surrounded by the legacies of Greek Mythology, the Mermaid’s enchanting allure was felt by the artists throughout the residency. 

The exhibition marks a collision of these two worlds: human and mythic, Lemba (Cyprus) and London.

2-4 Highbury Station Road, London N1 1SB
UK Charity 1123530

Artists Bio

Liv Abbott

Liv Abbott is an artist based in Cambridge whose interest in image making developed whilst studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester, specialising in film and visual methods. She has since held two residencies at the Cyprus College of Art, studied the Drawing Intensive at the Royal Drawing School and co-founded In The Flesh Studios, an arts collective based in Manchester. 

Predominantly working on paper and primarily concerned with the relationship between observation and imagination, images are collected, manipulated, and transformed in response to various influences in popular culture and film. The work in this exhibition includes observational drawings from the 2006 TV series H2O, where three Australian teenagers become mermaids with magical powers after swimming in a mystical pool during a full moon.

Mary Macken Allen

Mary Macken Allen is a figurative painter based in London. She graduated with a BA in Fine Art: Painting from Wimbledon College of Art in 2015, and completed the Turps Studio Programme in 2023. Her practice reflects on human relationships and the fluid boundaries of the self. Centred around the slow build-up of thin layers of paint, her paintings create a space where time is slowed down and otherwise fleeting moments of intimacy are brought into focus. Psychological states are realised through an intensified use of colour and a deliberate tautness in the gestures and poses of the figures. A hand reaching out, a gaze not quite met, a frozen gesture of touch. The paintings exhibited here are from a series made in Cyprus, which echo each other through repetition. They consider a moment of touch – the hands that cut through the figure serving as an uncanny interruption representing the meeting point between opposing forces – past and present / internal and external.

Emma Franks

Emma Franks (b. 1972), visual artist and Jewish feminist, was raised in Essex and now lives and works in London.   She is engaged with themes of intersectional identity and the many taboos facing women and patriarchal ideals of womanhood. A multidisciplinary artist who creates paintings, costumes, performance and artist books, Emma has made work about pregnancy, motherhood, the menopause, and mental illness.  Emma endeavors to make work that is raw and based on her own truth which is sometimes shocking in its refusal to sugar coat these subjects.  Her deeply personal practice combines lived experiences with strong imagery and personal symbols of power, as well as feminist icons, in rebelliously humorous works.

Emma studied Fine Art at Brighton University (1994), Art Psychotherapy at Hertfordshire University (1999) and Studio Painting at Turps Banana Art School (2023).   Franks previously worked within state education and the National Health Service, in addition to being a practicing artist. Recent exhibitions in London include Turps Banana Leavers Show,  Naissance Re-Naissance Unit Gallery London, and Recreational Grounds VII (2023); Love, Celebration and the Road Ahead, TJ Boulting (2022); Mood Times Ten, Fitzrovia Gallery (2022); 50:50, Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution (2019); and The Stratford Gallery (2018).

Dido Hallett

Dido Hallett is a figurative painter with a background in music. She was a member the pop group TIGER signed to Island Records in 1996. She attended Goldsmiths College 2006 and the RCA 2013 and was in New Contemporaries in 2006. She came 3rd in the Welsh Portrait Prize 2008. She is co-founder of Maverick Projects based in Peckham and Blink art collective.

Efrat Merin

Efrat Merin is a London-based artist. In her work, she makes use of the mythical to contest dominant power structures, celebrating female desires through a queer retelling of mythical narratives. Prominent themes in her work include the performativity of the queer body, the fusion of science and magic, and the environmental crisis as an existential state.

Efrat has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across the UK, Europe, and Tel Aviv. Solo shows include ‘Dream. Figure’ at Maya Gallery, Tel Aviv (2020), ‘Anima Mundi’ at Darbyshire Ltd (2023), and ‘Atomic Relations’ at SVA, Stroud (2023). She has also participated in group shows at venues such as Camden Art Center, Vincent van Gogh Huis Museum, Zundert and Tel Aviv Museum. She has been an artist-in-residence at Frans Masereel Centrum (2022), KH Messen (2022), and Van Gogh Huis Zundert (2023). Efrat is the recipient of several grants and awards, including the Keren Tarbut grant (2022, 2023), A-N Artist Bursaries (2023), and the Arts Council England DYCP grant (2024). She was selected for the Darbyshire Award for Emerging Art in 2022 and Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2023. Her work has been featured in publications such as Floorrr Magazine and ArtMaze Mag.

Margaret Paraskos

Margaret Paraskos is the director of Cyprus College of Art.

The work is gathered fragments of mythology and folklore both real and imagined, setting them in a Cypriot landscape to reveal a memory or experience. This results in an image that is both ekphratic in the way it relates to the Levantine story- telling tradition, and poetic in the way the images connect ancient myths to contemporary life.

Echo is a key figure in the work, a tragic representation of womanhood from Ovid’s Metamorphoses who pines away until she lacks even a physical body, becoming only a voice that is able to speak the last few words of other people’s speech.

Echo’s story resonates with the lives of women, from the past and today, whose voices are not heard and are therefore deemed unimportant.

Alix Philippe

Alix Philippe is a Belgian painter who lives and works in London. Alix’s paintings are based on observation and memories, fluctuating between figuration and abstraction. Using her sketchbooks, photographs or recalling feelings from her past, She wants the viewer to make up their own story. Her paintings often look like a collage or a patchwork of strange and fragmented environments painted on delicately primed linen or canvasses which feature the recurring sensation of the light as a background. Her atmospheric paintings tell us stories without a beginning or an end as well as resist any spatial or historical reading.

Previous exhibitions include solo shows in London at the Centre For Recent Drawing (2022), in Belgium at Martin Kudlek Gallery in Brussels (2023), at the Cultural Centre of Bastogne (2022), the gallery Jos Joos in Brussels (2018) or in Paris at the Parcours Saint-Germain at Mériguet-Carrère (2019). Her work has been featured in numerous group shows in the UK, France or Belgium. Recent residencies include Cyprus College of Art (2023), Artak350 in Iceland (2020), Nicky Ginsberg Art Residency in Provence (2019). She has been shortlisted for the Louis Schmidt Price in Brussels (2018

Phillip Reeves

Phillip Reeves was spawned in the brine of a rock pool in Le Jolies Eaux, Mustique, circa 1846.  The son of Caspian The Great Sea Manatee and Amphitrite The Leafy Sea Dragon, Reeves spent his formative years swaddled in the comforting swash of the shorelines of The Greater Antilles before experiencing L.S.D (Long Shore Drift) and being carried far over the ocean drop off and into the Abyssopelagic Zone.

It was here in The Abyss that Reeves became a scullery maid at the Royal Court of Neptune, later rising to the position of plonguer, before succeeding Moray as the new court painter for Triton, the controversial Son of Neptune. During this time, Reeves fell in love with a Mermaid. Eloping together on Sea Horse over the Mariana Trench and to the safety of The Outer Hebrides, Reeves and his Mermaid wife now spend their days sticking shells onto washed up bits of plastic flotsam and jetsam and then selling these magnificent objet d’art to gullible tourists.