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The Mermaid Army | Meet Body-Positive Artist Jayne Wright
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The Mermaid Army | Meet Body-Positive Artist Jayne Wright

Jayne Wright, also known as @jawceramics on Instagram, is a talented local ceramicist and a good friend of ours. Her latest project 'The Mermaid Army' is all about celebrating body positivity amongst a community of wild swimmers. We chatted to her all about this incredible project to find out more...

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your art?

Decades ago I did a creative arts degree, I have always worked in the arts and education. I started playing with clay 23 years ago but only really had the courage to do an art project like this since I moved to Margate at the the start of the third lock down. The Mermaid Army is about people who swim. The main theme is body positivity but recruits bring their own themes and causes which makes the project ever changing and interesting. 


We know you’re passionate about wild swimming - tell us a little more about that

Wild swimming is a passion and I have done my first winter. As I recover from covid I know it has been good from immune system. I have made great friends from outdoor swimming, the camaraderie is immense. There is something very special about mermaid friends. 

Amy with Seaweed Sue and Mini Sue

What drew you towards the medium of ceramics?

I never got chance to do it on my art degree. When Millie-Beth was born I went to ceramics classes rather than NCT classes. 


How did ‘The Mermaid Army’ start?

The Mermaid Army began with my mermaid wife Helen wanting some Xmas decorations, this is the truth. I made individual porcelain mermaids the first dozen hung in the Artisans & Adventurers seaside window display. 

Jayne's first Merman 


Your work is incredibly uplifting and empowering for many people, was this something that was at the forefront of your mind during the project?

Thank you, that is so wonderful to hear. When I look at the human body I see all the beautiful shapes, my sculptures are not about size. Bodies are vessels and they do incredible things. I try to celebrate and promote body positivity so to hear words like uplifting and empower being used about the sculptures is truly wonderful. I always  try to involve the model in the sculpture. Using their chosen images as my starting point I aim to capture the essence of the person. Sometime we design their dream costume this is always fun. 


What has been your proudest moment as an artist?

Proudest moment was making a clay ostomy bag and putting it in the right place with the help of amazing woman Gill Castle if you don’t know what she does yet please check her out on Instagram @stomachameleon 

Sculpture of Ruby & Janet District Council 


We know you support Crisis through this project, why is this charity important to you?

Crisis is one of the charities that The Mermaid Army has supported and raised awareness for. Margate Pride, Kent Blind Association, Birth Trauma and women of colour swimming are some of the other causes that are part of the project thanks to the swimmers. All of these causes are important to me if the sculptures can help raise awareness then that is amazing. 


Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve worked on?

Every single piece is my favourite there are 2 models who keep pushing me to sculpt more difficult poses, Ruby and Amy. The latest sculpture of Amy called Seaweed Sue should not have worked so I’m  proud of that. I love that we have our first merman 🧜🏻‍♂️ Johnny @wildswimmingyorkshireman he has supported the project from the beginning and is an advocate for men swimming and body positivity. Check out his flat cap no whippet sculpture.


Where do you see the future for ‘The Mermaid Army’?

I am working on a series of People who Swim stoneware plaques which is an interactive sculpture. I also am applying to the arts council and looking for a sponsor to help me do The Mermaid Army Tour of the UK & Ireland. I already have over 100 swimmers interested in 40 plus locations after a call out on Facebook.
I have a map covered in post it notes. The Mermaid Army captures what people are doing now, I hope to be able to document that with a book of the sculptures and stories.

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