It was my birthday at the weekend and, in honour of Poems Underwater, I was presented with this splendid mermaid cake, courtesy of Alice (‘Raddington‘):
Alice describes over on her blog how she based the cake on a late medieval mermaid detail from a misericord in Ludlow, Shropshire (pictured below). She had similar problems to Starbucks, albeit with purer intention, since she ended up moving the waist ruffle higher up the torso, thus losing the typically Gothic rounded stomach so central so many medieval nudes. The original was missing an arm, but since mermaids are traditionally depicted with combs anyway, she added one in.
The carving itself is an interesting companion piece to the Mermaid of Zennor found in St Senara’s church in Cornwall – a much earlier carving depicted on a church bench where, once again, the mermaid is admiring herself in a hand-held mirror. That carving formed part of the inspiration for Martin Kratz and Leo Geyer’s opera as discussed in an earlier post and, here again, the belly is prominently rounded. Both these carvings have something of the medieval marginalia about them – the mermaid is just one more strange hybrid, like those beings you see in illuminations, and perhaps, like those, occasionally an implicit comment on the ‘main text’ she surrounds.
Unfortunately, though, Alice’s cake met a fate as violent as that of Andersen’s Little Mermaid, and ended up cut into pieces.