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BY GINNY WARE


Miranda


LIKE her owner, Dartmouth’s striking mermaid Miranda has a dramatic view from her home, perched on a rocky peninsula on the banks of the River Dart.


And like her owner she sits looking wist- fully out to sea, imagining the far flung lands that lie beyond the horizon. The difference is Heather Robinson, who commissioned Brixham-based sculptor Elisabeth Hadley to create the bronze masterpiece, is a seasoned traveller who has visited many distant nations from Alaska to Chile. Miranda though is firmly rooted to her waterside perch, forever resting her gaze between the two castles that guard the estuary entrance. ‘At low tide she sits high


and dry up on the rocks enjoying her earthly life looking out at the castles and thinking about life in general, but when the spring tide rises and washes around her tail she wonders if she should just slip into the water and swim home – that’s my imagination anyway,’ Heather laughs. Thousands of people have


marvelled at Dartmouth’s land- mark fish-tailed beauty since Miranda became a permanent fixture at the bottom of Heather’s Castle Road garden in 2006. The eyes of sailors, Castle Ferry trippers, fishermen and pleasure cruise passengers have all thrilled to catch sight of the mermaid, which is quite apt really as Miranda’s story began with a pair of unblinking eyes.


‘A while ago I was sweeping my sea wall when I turned around towards the river because I felt I was being


watched,’ Heather explained. ‘Two, large round eyes were staring at me about eight-feet away. At first I thought it was a diver but it turned out to be a seal. We looked each other straight in the eyes and then he swam away. ‘That started me thinking about my little garden ornaments , which include tortoises, a concrete cat, a frog and a


High and dry – a contemplative Miranda in calmer weather.


‘A while ago I was sweeping my sea wall when I turned around towards the river because I felt I was being watched,’


wouldn’t want any seafarers to be lured onto my rocks, and I started thinking about mermaids.’ Miranda’s name is borrowed from the 1948 comedy film of the same name, starring Glynis Johns as a mermaid discovered by a young physician. Heather said: ‘Because I was think- ing of a mermaid the film came back to me. It always amused me as a teenager and it had always stuck in my mind, so the name Miranda seemed the perfect choice.’ It wasn’t until some years later


when Heather discovered Elisabeth Hadley’s work that the prospect of turning the Miranda of her imagination into a reality seemed possible. Heather worked closely


with Elisabeth at her studio in Brixham as she had specific ideas of how she wanted her mermaid to look. She said: ‘I was particular about the pose of her body and her hair.


Dartmouth’s captivating mermaid, Miranda, marooned in the stormy swirling river.


stone statue of Pandora and her box, and my thoughts led towards thinking about having something bigger, and so Miranda began to form in my mind. ‘I started thinking about Greek mythology, about the sirens that used to lure seafarers onto the rocks, although I


I almost threatened to get


a hairdresser to help us. Elisabeth wanted it more windswept but in calm weather to have her hair all over the place wouldn’t have looked quite right. She tweaked here and there and it wasn’t right but then she got it. ‘I went to Elisabeth’s studio and took photographs of the terracotta mould in various stages. I was and am enor- mously impressed with Elisabeth’s skills and admiring of the very hard work


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