The Bathing Girl and the Sea Dragon
The Bathing Girl and the Sea Dragon is a fun little piece I made towards the end of a figure sculpting class I taught in the UK in the summer of 2015. Being quicker than my students, generally, I find towards the end of the course I have the time to play around with ideas with respect to the model's pose. based solely on the pose, I try to imagine a plausible character, setting, and action for the piece. What you see evolved out of that.
I gave the figure a 'beach' environment, but saw that her gaze was directed towards a specific point on the base - a prime location for a second character or some other focal point for the narrative. Idecided to create some sort of 'magic' character, something ourside the reality of the nude figure - a sort of Alice in Wonderland interaction. I gave her a Sea Dragon to talk to; but it's actually just a hand puppet of a sea Dragon, not a 'real' one, the puppet mounted on an arm rising right out of the sand, thus extending the surreal encounter to a deeper level. Finally, I provide a bit of context for the entire piece with a written quotation from a non-existing book, framing the sculpture as evidently an illustration of that passage. The quote reads:
"But there must be a hundred Bathing Girls like me!"
"Not so - Not so! cried the Sea Dragon.
This is the moment in a story or myth known as (according to Joseph Campbell) The Call to Adventure. It's the moment when the Hero realizes - or is told - they are special in some way, unlike others, and perhaps with a destiny to fulfill. Today we might think of it as the "Yer a wizard, Harry!" moment from Harry Potter, or "Follow the Yellow Brick Road!" from the Wizard of Oz, or the moment when Arthur unexpectedly draws Excalibur from the stone. In each of these moments, the Hero's path takes a new course, with a new sense of awareness of their place, and of purpose, in the world.
This sculpture purposefully raises a lot of questions that are left unanswered, leaving the viewer to engage in imagining who the bathing girl is, why she is special, and how her story ends.