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Secret Garden

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Secret Garden - Oil on canvas painting by Michelle Chermaine

Oil on canvas 8" x 10" 2010

"Outside the castle there was a beautiful garden, in which grew bright red and dark blue flowers,
and blossoms like flames of fire; the fruit glittered like gold, and the leaves and stems waved to
and fro continually. The earth itself was the finest sand, but blue as the flame of burning sulphur.
Over everything lay a peculiar blue radiance, as if it were surrounded by the air from above,
through which the blue sky shone, instead of the dark depths of the sea..."

(Excerpt from The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen)


I've always been attuned to water. I used to spend every weekend at the beach when I was a child and wondered what mysteries lay beneath the sea. Although I was a Disney fan and loved The Little Mermaid when it first came out, I still had an appreciation for Andersen's sombre original story which I first read in an illustrated children's book that I still have to this day as a souvenir from my childhood. Fascinated by mythology I kept reading more stories from different cultures and learned that not all sea maidens were believed to be as friendly as the little mermaid. In the old days, sea sirens were feared as they were known to cause shipwrecks using their beautiful voices to lure sailors to steer their ships towards the rocks upon which they anticipated the humans' deaths.

Evolution tells us that life started from the sea. All the rivers, oceans and lakes are the cradles of life on earth. In essence, we are all born of water. From the very first prehistoric creatures to travel out of the primordial waters unto the shore, to every living being that spends the beginning of its life enclosed in a womb or egg, floating and nurtured by its liquid life source. Therefore, the worlds' waters command not only our admiration but also our respect.

As a child I always hoped that I would come across a mermaid if mermaids existed. I wondered if there were any of them who were as curious about life on land as Disney's Ariel was and wondered if anyone was willing to switch places for a day so I could explore life under the sea. And if such creatures really existed, were they the benevolent water nymphs as described in children's books or were they sinister predators who were beautiful as they were savage? Imagine what it would feel like to swim in these depths exploring a beautiful kelp forest and suddenly encounter a mysterious figure appearing near the exit swimming towards you.

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