was educated at École des Beaux-Arts in France, and is an accomplished and well-known sculptor, particularly in subjects involving the sea and ocean conservation. Her passion for preserving nature and in particular our oceans shines through in her stunningly beautiful works of art – which may soon be coming to a place near you.
Named for the beautiful Amaryllis flower, she was nicknamed Ama. She one day learned that ‘ama‘ is a Japanese word for women of the sea – the Japanese ama have a rich tradition of diving for pearls and other treasures of the sea, similar to the haenyo divers in South Korea.
Amaryllis developed a passion for mythology and legends pertaining to our oceans, and has been a mermaid enthusiast since her childhood.
A recurring theme in her art is our connection to the sea as the origin of life, and the message that we need to preserve this cradle of life, both for ourselves and for the many endangered species.
While in Las Vegas recently, Amaryllis very graciously gave me an interview for Mermaids of Earth.
What inspires you as an artist?
“I have been fascinated with the marine world since I was a child, and became interested in mythology and legends of the oceans. These are a rich source of inspiration for me, and inspire the magical, the mysterious and the fantastical.
Also, I am as an artist part of the “Generation Grand Bleu” – those of us who were caught up in the world of diving and our connection with the oceans as portrayed in the 1988 film “Le Grand Bleu”. I was fortunate to know and dive with Jacques Mayol, who inspired a generation in France and he was a huge inspiration for me. Jacques introduced me to dolphins, and this contributed directly to the development of my art.”
How do mermaids fit into this?
“Mermaids are part of mythology going back thousands of years, and they fascinated me from the beginning. As a girl I wanted to be a mermaid, and I did many drawings and paintings of them. There is romance and magic, beauty and elegance. They inhabit a world filled with fantastic creatures of almost infinite variety, and it is a world we as humans are endangering.
“The mermaids are in a sense the protectors of the marine world, and they can carry a message that will be heard – a message to protect the oceans and preserve the endangered species.”
Atlante is your fabulous life-size bronze mermaid statue in Cannes, on the French Riviera. How did she come to be there?
“Atlante was placed in Cannes in the year 2000. She is a mermaid who has come to us out of the sea at the turn of the century. She considers the losses of the last century and looks into the new century. She is strong and brave, and determined to face the coming storms and to help us undo the damage caused by the poisoning of the oceans and the senseless hunting that threatens many marine species. She is the only sculpture to have been allowed in the waters of the port of Cannes.
“Like most of my mermaids she has legs, and is not the usual mermaid with a tail (or two). She is out of the water and is adapted to this environment while she is here, but she still retains mermaid characteristics, such as the fish-scale boots and vestigial fins, and attire that is clearly of the sea.
“She has been there for near 13 years now, alone on her rock. I am considering whether I should add a dolphin companion. In the late 1960’s a wild dolphin became famous for staying in the Cannes Harbor, and for a couple years was a sort of mascot for the city. I would be nice to bring him back as a companion for Atlante.”
That is a lovely idea. One of your early works was l’Ange de Mers – the Angel of the Seas. What does she represent?
“She is part woman, and part manta ray. She symbolizes our origin, and our connection to the sea as the Mother of Life, the cradle of life on our world. Like my other statues, she carries a message of preservation and harmony with life in our oceans.”
You are also the artist behind Amaryllis Art for Charity. It is a big project, to bring approximately 100 mermaids statues to locations across the world, and to raise money for charity. How did this start, and how is it going?
“This project came about thanks to Thomas Noor, who had the great idea for this, and whose incredible generosity made it possible. Combining the free placement of these mermaid statues with the eventual charitable contribution to a local cause seems like a stroke of genius to me.
“It is my hope that our beautiful mermaid, holding her skin of scales as a symbol of the oceans’ survival, will raise our awareness and encourage mankind to love and respect our blue planet.
“She left her underwater world to connect with mankind and alert us that we are damaging her environment. She wants to explain that water is the cradle of life, the ultimate necessity to assure humanity’s own existence. As she arrives on more and more shorelines, it is our belief that she will gain a louder voice and will help make the point that we must respect her home.
“She walks while she is here, but she carries her tail and scales with her, for her return to her own world when her message is heeded and we are no longer poisoning her world.
“Thomas and Maria Noor created Amaryllis Art for Charity to help get AMA broadly known, while raising funds for charities all over the world.
“Each AMA statue is named for her location, and inscribed with her name and coordinates. There are also 8 different patinas available, so every AMA becomes unique.
“The AMAs remain in their location until sold, and can then be replaced with another sculpture or another AMA.
“We have about 11 AMAs already in place, in Thailand, France, German, Switzerland, Austria and Mexico. Many more are scheduled this year in additional locations in South Korea, the United States, England and France.”
Are you planning more mermaid sculptures?
“Yes, I have several ideas for more mermaids, and plan on making some that are a little less serious, more lighthearted, charming and fun.”
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Thank you, Amaryllis. We all look forward to the AMAs reaching many shores, and seeing other mermaids in the future.