A new statue will be installed near Blackpool’s North Pier next year – and it could look like a street performer.
The figure was announced this morning by the council, which said it will “become a new local figure, inspired by sea goddesses and heroes across cultures”, with artist Laurence Payot hoping it will “be made for people living and working in Blackpool”.
The authority said: “Playing with the long-standing traditions of magic and illusions, people will be unsure whether the artwork is a street performer disguised as a statue.”
Laurence is now asking children, teenagers, and adults to contribute ideas to the design. She said she was “honoured” to have been commissioned, though the council did not immediately say how much the statue will cost.
She said: “I have spent the last month talking to people living and working in Blackpool, delivering creative sessions with local groups, schools and young people, to explore what a new contemporary sea character could look like.
“It will have a strong made in Blackpool feel and become a symbol of protection for our endangered oceans. I would love to hear from anyone passionate about the Blackpool sea.”
The council’s arts boss, Coun Kim Critchley, added: “This is a fun opportunity for the people of Blackpool to get involved and come up with imaginative ideas for the creation of the final statue design. Blackpool is a vibrant town so we hope that this statue will become a talking point for residents and visitors alike.
“Our seaside resort is renowned for its golden coastline so it is very fitting that the design plans will celebrate the sea and our quality beaches.
“This project is all part of the council’s plan to revive the town centre and deliver a better Blackpool for everyone.”
The council said the project has been commissioned "as part of the wider plans for the town centre regeneration", which is meant to be make the town centre more attractive to shoppers, residents, and investors.
But Coun Tony Williams, the opposition leader at the town hall, said: "I would like to know where the money is coming from for this folly. Is it really essential when the town has serious issues?
"What a total waste of money. They could hire the real thing. Why not hold a competition for street performers on the Prom? That would be far more interesting.
"They have stopped street performers working in Blackpool, and now they will build a statue that looks like one."
The "contemporary mermaid" statue will "reflect on Blackpool's achievements to improve the quality of the town's sea water with all four of the beaches - south, central, north, and Bispham, receiving a Seaside Award earlier this year", the council added.
Laurence held a series of workshops and sessions with a consultant called Scott Farlow, while fashion students from Blackpool and The Fylde College took part in a couple of workshops during the summer.
In August, staff and volunteers from the beach patrol team took part in a session to help design the artwork.
The model chosen for the cast will be a young woman from Blackpool. Laurence is on the lookout for a suitable female model who is passionate about the sea and the environment.
What do you think the statue should look like? Join the discussion on Facebook at ‘the making of a contemporary mermaid’, email the artist on firstname.lastname@example.org and
follow the project blog, bit.ly/contemporarymermaid
Send your suggestions by 1 December.