One thing I learned a couple of years ago is that ceramic figurines are definitely not for me. We have quite a collection here at The Mariner’s Museum and some of them are hilarious or have downright terrifying faces.
The picture above shows two ceramic pieces, one depicting a sailor leaving his sweetheart and the other is the sailor returning to his sweetheart. This makes me laugh every time because the sailor didn’t just get a tan, he’s red as a lobster! When he left he was pasty white and being out in the sun, as sailors are, has done quite a number to him. I imagine his sweetheart probably had a difficult time recognizing him (imagine her reaction!).
I find a great number of our ceramics funny because the people depicted just don’t look quite right. The last image is a particularly good example because the man’s (Lord Nelson) skin is blue, which makes him appear to be ill or deceased. I can’t imagine wanting to display that in my home, even though these pieces are interesting to look at.
Besides ceramics, we have a number of figureheads with faces that could give a person nightmares.
These faces are especially startling when you’re doing something in a storage room and turn around to find them intently looking at you . These faces are also why I sometimes feel as though someone is watching me while I work. Someone is watching me! As for the figureheads, a little bit of conservation work would probably do wonders for them, but we try not to conserve or restore figureheads overly much because we want them to stay as original as possible.
The picture above shows another great piece that I find very beautiful and yet also rather terrifying. It could be the sharp teeth, it could be the hypnotizing eyes, but I try not to stare at him too long. This guy is a Balinese cremation pylon carving from about 1929/1930. It was acquired by Alexander Crosby Brown during a world voyage aboard the schooner Chance where he witnessed a cremation ceremony. It’s definitely an interesting addition to our collection!