Mermaids Make a Splash in RHS Chelsea Garden

The Henley Mermaids stripped down to their swimming costumes at Chelsea Flower Show yesterday after being invited by sculptor, Dawn Conn to pose next to her  unique swimming sculptures in a garden entitled “Essence of Life” designed by Emma O’Connell on press day.

Three of the Mermaids, Laura Reineke, Joan Fennelly and Jo Robb were brave enough to get undressed in the garden which features a lock gate from Reclaimed Designs UK, sourced from the Grand Union Canal, a water feature and naturalistic planting. Dawn’s bronze sculptures included a swimmer about to dive into the water.

Sculptor Dawn who has also exhibited at Henley Festival said “Eleven months ago I had a vision of a lock gate, some running water and wild flowers. I am so lucky that this vision has come together and to have the Mermaids there as campaigners for clean water and emblems of joy in middle age was just wonderful.”

Susan Barry, a Mermaid and aspiring garden designer herself, said the day was magical. “It was so special to be at Chelsea on press day, to be able to see the show gardens without the crowds and to get up close to the beautiful plants and flowers.”

“We met so many wonderful people and had a great time reconnecting with our dear local friend Lynne Lambourne ‘Warrior on Waste’ at her amazing Gardena stand, there is so much community spirit in Henley and it was great to see it in action at Chelsea,” Lynne’s designs are trailblazing and just show what can be done with recycled materials and some imagination,” said Laura Reineke.

Mermaid Jo, SODC River Champion and Green Party District Councillor said, “It was an honour to meet Linford Christie who has promised to come swimming with us  and one of our heroes of sustainability, Deborah Meaden, another passionate advocate for cleaner rivers. We’re looking forward to working with Deborah for end to sewage pollution and the restoration of our rivers.”

Mermaid Jo added, “All in all it was a wonderful day out. It just goes to show the power of saying yes – swimming and campaigning for our river has led us on so many adventures. As soon as Dawn got in touch we knew this was something we wanted to do. Though we’re not sure if anyone has stripped down to swimming costumes at the Chelsea Flower Show before. It was bizarre, joyful and so much fun. We can’t wait for our next adventure.”


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